A little known fact about the Indiana Toll Road came to light at Wednesday night’s US 30 meeting in Warsaw, thanks to Don Zolman.
The Warsaw farmer, who owns a trucking firm, contends that the increased truck traffic on US 30 — one of the reasons cited for the need to construct a new limited-access freeway — is because truckers are choosing 30 rather than paying higher tolls on the toll road.
That issue was touched on a year ago at the first US 30 meeting convened to consider a new highway from Fort Wayne to Valparaiso when James Turnwald, executive director of Michiana Council of Governments, said a study had been done that showed no significant difference in truck traffic shifting to US 30.
Zolman sought a copy of the study and then learned one had not been done and that Turnwald had misspoken. Turnwald was back in Warsaw for the public meeting Wednesday and explained the mistake, saying he meant to say they “were trying to study” the issue.
He said the state is not allowed to study traffic on the toll road because it is leased by a private firm and that such info is considered “proprietary data.”
“That’s not my decision,” Turnwald told the crowd. “That is a decision well above me downstate.”
At the same time, he said he’d “love to study that question.”
Zolman suggested voters demand change in the INDOT policy. “I find that hard to believe they don’t have any numbers on traffic on the Toll Road,” Zolman told the crowd. “We may lease it, but we still own it … Somebody has those numbers someplace. I would encourage everyone here to contact your legislators.”
Other highlights from the meeting:
- Former judge Duane Huffer didn’t hold back on his opinion about why US 30 is such a congested mess. He addressed the crowd and was blunt. Afterward, he summarized his thoughts, saying property owners along the proposed northern and southern routes “should not suffer because of the horrible mis-planning by our city in regard to US 30 … They’ve made Warsaw the Kokomo of northern Indiana.”
- Democrat Roxanne Coffelt, a candidate for Warsaw City Council, also spoke and suggested the state construct an elevated highway from one end of the city to the other with local access lanes (the existing highway) on the ground level.
- Organizers of the meeting chose to have it at the Lincoln Elementary gymnasium because the floor space would allow for plenty of people to check out the large maps on five tables, according to Mayor Joe Thallemer. But minutes before the start of the meeting, Thallemer appeared just a tad nervous as a huge crowd began surging onto the bleachers. For a moment, he wondered out loud whether there would be enough seats. I was told the bleachers can hold a maximum of 900 people, so I’d guess there were about 700 in attendance. That’s an impressive turnout.
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BANK ON IT — Rep. Jim Banks, of Columbia City, fired off a series of tweets Friday afternoon defending President Donald Trump against whistleblower allegations that surfaced late this week.
In a span of seven tweets, Banks hammered Hunter Biden (a son of former Vice President Joe Biden) for what he called “special treatment and nepotism” and then suggested that some type of favoritism has been extended to Barack Obama, the Clintons and maybe even Joe Biden.
Banks and Hunter Biden both served in the Navy Reserve, according to the tweets. Banks ridiculed the circumstances in which Hunter Biden had received what he viewed as preferential treatment for Hunter while in the military, pointing out Hunter had failed at least one drug test.
The whistleblower scandal appeared to be snowballing Friday. By 6 p.m., the Wall Street Journal was reporting that Trump, in a conversation with the president of Ukraine, repeatedly brought up the idea of Ukraine looking further into activities of the Bidens in Ukraine.
Banks posted the tweets at about 1 p.m. Friday. In one, he contends Trump “has every right to ask Ukraine to investigate.”
If you use Twitter and enjoy politics, I suggest you follow Banks at @RepJimBanks.
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LOCAL POLITICS — A few other items of note:
- State Sen. Stacey Donato (R-Logansport) was sworn into office this week, representing District 18. She might live more than an hour away from Warsaw, but she’s been a frequent flyer in Kosciusko County. Most recently, she attended the county GOP Hall of Fame dinner Tuesday in Syracuse.
- Local Democrats will have their third annual “Salute To Service tonight, Sept. 21, at Noa Noa in Warsaw.
- Local Republicans will have their annual fish fry at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Dan Spalding is the editor of InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.