Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully takes a ride up north and asks a good question: What's all the fuss about the Toll Road?
This column probably would be more interesting if I'd found anything to complain about: A traffic jam. A pothole to rival those that marked Indy's streets this spring. An obvious sign of mismanagement.
After all, the complaint letters had conjured images of long lines at toll booths, roach-infested bathrooms, rude toll collectors, $10-a-gallon gas and massive potholes. But I found none of that. Instead, I found a road that was easy to drive, free of problems and freshly paved in many spots.
Much of the lingering anger over the toll road is from Democrats who will forever complain about the governor "selling off the state," and they will be impervious to any proof that the deal might actually be working. And Tully's column will appeal mostly to Reoublicans who will go on defending the governor no matter what.
The truth is we won't know for years whether the deal was good or not. $3.8 billion can do a lot of good for a lot of roads, but if the money is squandered or frittered away, the 75 years of the lease, with no new money coming in, will seem like a very long time. There's nothing wrong with the privatization of some state operations; if it provides a better deal for taxpayers, it would be incompetent not to do it. But the scope and length of this lease are reason to give us pause. It makes me uncomfortable when one administration obligates the next one (and future taxpayers) too much. This will obligate taxpayers and incoming administrations almost into the next century.