i-Team: Tolling discount math won't add up for everyone

Not everyone will qualify for toll discount

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- To pay for the $2.3 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, tolling on some bridges that cross the Ohio River will be the way of life until 2053. For anyone who lives and works on opposite sides of the river, the cost to cross can get pretty high, which is why there is a frequent-user discount. But not everyone will qualify, the WHAS 11 news i-Team discovered.

Transponders will start pulling at least $2 from your prepaid account to cross the Lincoln, Kennedy and East End bridges.

"Tolling exists because we have to pay for this project," Ohio River Bridges Project spokesperson Mindy Peterson said. "If you make 40 one way trips or 20 round trips on tolled bridges in a calendar month, then you get a $40 credit and every additional trip is discounted to $1."

The discount sounded simple enough to Michael Sadofsky, who commutes across the river daily, until he looked closer at the math.

"They've set it up, I feel, so very few people can get the discount."

The i-Team checked his numbers.

Theoretically, take the year 2017 and an average Monday through Friday driver. Excluding federal holidays, there are only five months out of the year that have more than 20 workdays. The other 7 months have exactly 20 workdays or less, including February, which has only 19.

"If you miss a day, you're sick or take vacation, you're in trouble," Sadofsky said in frustration, "Or you have to make extra trips across just to get the 40 trips."

The i-Team took that concern directly to Peterson.

"If they don't hit it where they have a week of vacation or miss some time, they may not get it that month, but the next month, it resets and they can absolutely qualify again," Peterson said.

Peterson admitted the threshold for the discount is extremely tight, but added, for the few systems across the country that do offer a discount, the threshold of 40 one-way trips in a calendar month is on par with other systems.

"We have a number that's pretty high," she said, "It's 40 trips and that's specifically designed for folks who live on one side of the river, work on the other side of the river five days a week and of course, there are people who work full time, that have three day work weeks, four day work weeks; not everybody is going to get a discount."

She said the discount is a benefit for folks who reach it, not a penalty for those who don't.

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