8:00 PM EDT, April 10, 2011
When Governor Mitch Daniels “leased” the Indiana Toll road – and I was still doing these commentaries on the air – I did not know what to make of it. The problem for me was the staggering numbers: 3.8 billion dollars over 75 years. The Harvard School of Business wouldn’t be able to do a spread sheet on that one. So, I decided since I would probably not be around when the lease expired. I would just be happy if the Toll Road became a better driving experience.
It is not.
Now I see that tolls are going to increase for drivers who take tickets and pay cash. Let me give all of you some advice: get one of those I-Zoom gizmos, because it is not worth paying another penny to drive the old Main Street of the Midwest.
At the end of March I took the Toll Road to Chicago. There were patches of potholes that knocked my car practically airborne. And there is a construction zone about four miles long near Gary. How come there was no one working on it? And doesn’t it seem that stretch has been under construction for years?
On the way back I stopped at the “rest area” located around the 20-mile marker. You get in and get out as quick as you can. In the men’s restroom two of the urinals apparently were not working, and to make sure you knew it the urinals had cardboard boxes stuffed in them. Now that is real classy!
But the west end is an oasis compared to the east end. I pity the poor, inexperienced driver who doesn’t get through northern Indiana with a full tank and a strong bladder.
On my last several trips the east end was an embarrassment to the state of Indiana. Gasoline prices were nearly 20 cents a gallon higher than the other stops and stations just off the Toll Road. And the men’s restrooms were filthy and smelled like…well, smelled like what is supposed to go down the urinal. I know what you’re thinking: Mike, that is gross. You are correct. It is gross. So when I complained I was told that independent contractors run the rest stops. Who cares? They’re rest stops on the Northern Indiana Toll Road.
Governor Daniels should take a first-hand look at this. It shouldn’t take long, because as Governor he could get the state police to take him for a drive, put on the lights and go as fast as they can. However, Mitch, I recommend you take your debit card to pay for the gas and a clothes pin for your nose, because it stinks and Indiana deserves better. And while you’re at it, go into Ohio where the highway is in much better shape, and the rest stops are actually a pleasure when you have to take a break.
And they have lots of Starbucks.
But do it soon, Mitch, because I see where the new Ohio Governor is thinking of following your lead. God forbid, because I know my gas tank and bladder cannot hold out from South Bend to Pennsylvania.
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