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New state police post planned for toll road

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scannerfreak

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http://www2.indystar.com/articles/9/246017-2209-127.html

Officials are working on plans to replace the Indiana Toll Road's state police post as they look to use money from the highway's new private operators to boost the number of troopers patrolling it.

A remodeled service station on the edge of South Bend has served as the toll road post for the state police since 1973. The 5,000-square-foot building's garage is used as a meeting room and neither the heating nor air conditioning systems are considered adequate.

The decision on where to build the new post is being considered by the Indiana Finance Authority, the state agency which legally owns the northern Indiana highway.

Ryan Kitchell, the state public finance director, said a decision could be reached by year's end on the building's location and its possible use by other state agencies.

"I think we're still way early to tell (the location) and we certainly need to have a lot more discussions with state police to understand their needs," he told the South Bend Tribune for a story Tuesday.

State troopers will continue to patrol the highway as they have since it opened in 1956 even though an Australian-Spanish partnership last month paid $3.8 billion for a 75-year lease to operate it and collect the toll revenue.

The toll road lease proceeds are to pay for the new police post and 50 police vehicles. The lease agreement also requires the operator to contribute $6 million a year, plus an inflation factor, for police patrols of the highway.

The infusion will free up more than $4 million that state police now use for toll road operations, and allow the agency to boost the number of troopers for the highway from 26 to 47.

State police Superintendent Paul Whitesell said he hoped to move quickly to assign the additional troopers. He said the added troopers also would allow more patrols on nearby roads, which are expected to bear more traffic as tolls are increased.

Counted by mile markers from the Indiana-Illinois state line, the state police post is at mile marker 72 and the highway's headquarters in Granger is at marker 87 along the 157-mile route.

Lt. Dallard Tackett, the state police commander for the toll road, said operations could be managed from anywhere along the highway, but "we could be more efficient if we were near the middle of the toll road, wherever that might be."
 
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