State Supreme Court Clears Way For 'Major Moves'

The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively shot down a lawsuit brought in an effort to stop the lease of the Indiana Toll Road, a major part of Gov. Mitch Daniels' "Major Moves" highway plan.

The high court affirmed a St. Joseph County court ruling in May that labeled the action a public suit and required opponents of the highway plan to post a $1.9 billion bond within 30 days to continue the case -- something organizers said will not be possible.

The 75-year toll road lease would bring $3.8 billion into state coffers. Much of the money is planned to be used on other state road projects.

The toll road lease has a clause that would render it void if legal challenges are not decided by the end of June.

In the unanimous decision, the court struck down every argument made by opponents of the lease plan, 6News' Norman Cox reported.

Plaintiffs argued that the lease plan violates the constitutional prohibition against laws benefiting only part of the state.

The court said the highway plan's impact is statewide and that the inclusion of some local effects in a bill of general statewide significance does not render the bill a special law.

Opponents also argued that the constitution requires that money from selling state assets must be used to retire existing date.

The court said that referred to "outstanding debt as of the adoption of the 1851 constitution." That debt has long since been retired.

The ruling clears the way for the closing of the lease on the toll road with the Spanish-Australian partnership. The deal is expected to close within the next 10 days.

Daniels is traveling in Japan on Tuesday, but legislative leaders, including the two transportation committee chairmen, hailed the ruling.

"I think it's an exciting development for every Hoosier who thinks we need to have good road transportation here, good infrastructure, and every Hoosier that supports the creation of 130,000 jobs. That's what this program is about," said Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma.

The head of the Citizens Action Coalition, one of the plaintiffs, said he is disappointed and thinks the ruling is wrong.

Grant Smith said his group will end its effort to block the lease, but will continue an effort to stop the extension of Interstate 69.

Print this article Back to Top