LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After decades of talk and dozens of studies, the Bi-State Bridges Authority has released its initial plan for funding two new Ohio River bridges. Ever since the authority started talking about footing the bill for the more than $4 billion project, tolls have been mention and the word was included in the report. But the big question everyone has is just how much and where will I pay?
The document filed on July 16 is just an early draft to the federal government to start the dialogue about air quality, but there is one paragraph might alarm many people:
"For the purposes of this financial demonstration effort, a toll rate of $3 (in 2009 dollars) imposed in both directions is assumed. Actual rates will likely differ and may include variation based on time-of-day, vehicle type, facility, and other factors."
However, before you think you will pay $6.00 a day to cross the bridges or come through Spaghetti Junction, Steve Schultz, executive director of the Bi-State Bridges Authority, says to hold on.
"The higher the toll rate, the more traffic diversion you have. The more traffic diversion you have, the more pollution you have. And so if we can fit within the air quality containment budget at a $3.00 toll rate, we know we can fit within the air quality containment budget at a lower rate," said Schultz.
If tolls become part of the plan to pay for the new bridges and the major reconstruction of Spaghetti Junction, they could be less than $3.00, maybe a lot less. It's $2.00 for example, daily travelers might pay a lot less, such as $1.00.
Kerry Stemler of the Kentucky-Indiana Bridges Authority emphasized this is just a worst case scenario to start a dialogue with the federal government. But if we end up with tolls, remember you probably won't just pay if you cross the river. The authority has a number of proposed tolling points. For instance, near Zorn Avenue on I-71 coming into town and near Arthur Street on I-65. A lot of the cost of this project is rebuilding the interstates downtown.