Bridges project seeking input on toll impact


by Gene Kang

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Updated Monday, Jul 22 at 9:28 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Residents are voicing concerns about proposed tolls for the long awaited Ohio River Bridges Project.

The tolls could cost between $1 to $10.

Some say it’s the cost of progress, others believe it will be a heavy toll.

A taxing debate took place Monday night at a public meeting in Clarksville, Ind., about the burden of expected tolls.

"Just the cost of living here in Louisville and with gas prices. You know this is ridiculous. This is ridiculous," Toledia Turner, a driver, said.

"I hate to say it but Southern Indiana is the one that is going to get hurt the most and that's a very nice community," Michael Jenkins, a driver, said.

"If people need to travel, they'll travel. They want a bridge, they need a bridge. Look at what happened when we didn't have it," Tony Kush, a driver, said.

Starting 2016, tolls will be charged on the new Downtown Bridge on I-65 and the revamped Kennedy Bridge, and the new East End Bridge connecting Prospect and Utica.

Some say it's a problem for people in low-income and minority communities.

"I think the decision about tolls or how to toll was an afterthought," Metro Councilwoman District Five, Cheri Bryant Hamilton, said.

Metro Councilwoman District One, Attica Scott, said, "We know that you go there because often times our neighborhoods lack any retail. We have little to no retail so you have to go across the river."

It could cost $1 for "frequent commuters" in cars or motorcycles.
$2 for cars, trucks, SUVs and motorcycles crossing the bridges once in while.
$5 for panel or box trucks
$10 for semi-trucks or tractor trailers

Barry Barker, TARC Executive Director, said, “We've got buses going across the river going 946 times a week. If we've got to pay tolls that could be a substantial amount of money on an annual basis."

TARC executives say they could be forced to cut bus routes if they have to pay tens of thousands a year in toll fees.

It's the opposite in places like San Francisco and New Jersey where public transportation is funded by toll bridges.

But nothing like that is in our region.

Here are some ideas to lessen the burden:       
* Providing free transponders which deduct funds electronically
* Distributing transponders at grocery stores, DMVs and other convenient locations
* Establishing "toll operations offices" and "mobile locations" within low-income neighborhoods
* Creating a website and smart phone app to order transponders
* Allowing easy ways to replenish funds through cash, credit/debit, money orders and online payments
* Reducing the minimum balance needed on transponders to cross the bridges

It’s important to note that two bridges will not have toll fees, the Clark Memorial Bridge and Sherman Minton Bridge.

Meetings are set for:

Monday July 22, 2013
4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn Clarksville
505 Marriott Drive in Clarksville, IN

Tuesday July 23, 2013
4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage
1701 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard in Louisville, KY