$3 tolls out of the question for some Kentuckiana residents - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

$3 tolls out of the question for some Kentuckiana residents

Steve Schultz Steve Schultz
Craig Hood Craig Hood
John Maxon John Maxon
Kerry Stemler Kerry Stemler
Sketch of proposed downtown Ohio River bridge Sketch of proposed downtown Ohio River bridge
Louisville, KY -

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kentuckiana may want to get comfortable with the idea to pay a toll to cross the Ohio River. Tolls are part of the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridge Authority's plan. The Bi-state authority sent a report to the federal government with a dollar amount to start dialogue about air quality.

In that report, the Authority indicated tolls could be as high as $3 each time a person crosses the Kennedy or one of the two new bridges in the plan. But authority members called the $3 price, "the worst case scenario" and indicated nothing is set in stone.

The cost of the bridges project is about $4.1 billion. Steve Schultz, executive director of Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridge Authority, said 50 percent of it will be paid by federal and state funding. The other 50-percent will be paid using alternative funding. A big part of that will be with tolls.

The initial plan places tolls on only three bridges: the existing Kennedy Bridge, a new downtown bridge, and the new East End bridge. The Clark Memorial and the Sherman Minton would remain toll free.

"Probably me and Sherman would be best buddies," said Craig Hood, a New Albany resident who travels to Kentucky frequently.

Hood agrees Kentuckiana needs bridges, but does not want to pay more than 30 cents to cross.

"I think as Americans and I think all we all don't mind helping each other out. If it's going to alleviate some of the pressure for all of us then so be it," Hood said.

"But I would also ask those same folks who've been stuck in traffic, like I have in the mornings, how much of a toll they are already bearing?" Schultz said. "In terms of missed appointments, time lost, wear and tear on the vehicle, traffic accidents."

Schultz stressed safety is the number one priority.

We're told the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridge Authority does not believe it can move forward with this project without some sort of user fee and that dollar amount is still in the works. The tolling program chosen, time of day, specific vehicle charge, will be factored into the price of the toll.

"The economy is already bad enough and to put another damper on that when you're trying to get back and forth to work or what have you," said John Maxon of New Albany, who told us he drives to and from Kentucky at least 3 to 4 times a day.

Maxon said he would pay 25 cents with a daily pass, but for his family, $3.00 is out of the question.

"If we have to pay that toll on the bridge, we won't be able to afford to come over here," said Maxon.

"I would say, we've been paying a toll," said Kerry Stemler, a member of the Bridges Authority. "We've been paying a toll of the time for years and it's time we do something to get this project moving and get it built."

In the next several months, the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority will iron out their financial plan, very likely with a smaller toll, and a sizeable discount for frequent commuters. They have given themselves a December 31, 2010 deadline.

While the plan isn't set in stone, the new East End Bridge is scheduled to open with tolls in 2017 and the new Downtown and revamped Kennedy Bridge with tolls in 2020.

Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kentuckiana may want to get comfortable with the idea to pay a toll to cross the Ohio River. Tolls are part of the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridge Authority's plan. The Bi-state authority sent a report to the Federal Government with a dollar amount to start dialogue about air quality.

In that report, the Authority indicated tolls could be as high as $3 each time a person crosses the Kennedy or one of the two new bridges in the plan. Members of the Authority called the $3 price, "the worst case scenario". They indicated nothing is set in stone.

The cost of the bridges project is about $4.1 billion. Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridge Authority Executive Director, Steve Schultz said 50-percent of it will be paid by federal and state funding. The other 50-percent will be paid using alternative funding, a big part of it, is with tolls.

The initial plan places tolls on only 3 bridges: the existing Kennedy bridge, a new Downtown Bridge, and an East End Bridge. The 2nd street bridge and the Sherman Minton would remain toll free. "Probably me and Sherman would be best buddies," Craig Hood said, who lives in New Albany, but travels to Kentucky -frequently.

Hood agrees Kentuckiana needs bridges, but does not want to pay more than 30 cents to cross. "I think as Americans and I think all we all don't mind helping each other out. If it's going to alleviate some of the pressure for all of us then so be it," he said.

"But, I would also ask those same folks who've been stuck in traffic like I have in the mornings. how much of a toll they are already bearing," Schultz said. "In terms of missed appointments, time lost, wear and tear on the vehicle, traffic accidents," he continued. Schultz stressed safety is the number one priority.

We're told the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridge Authority does not believe it can move forward with this project without some sort of user fee and that dollar amount is still in the works. The tolling program chosen, time of day, specific vehicle charge, will be factored into the price of the toll.

"The economy is already bad enough and to put another damper on that when you're trying to get back and forth to work or what have you," John Maxon said. Maxon lives in New Albany and said he drives to and from Kentucky at least 3 to 4 times a day.

Maxon said he would be 25 cents with a daily pass. "You pay 25 cents and then hold for the day," he said.

For his family, he said, 3 bucks is out of the question. "If we have to pay that toll on the bridge, we won't be able to afford to come over here," he said.

Kerry Stemler with the Authority said, "I would say, we've been paying a toll. We've been paying a toll of the time for years and it's time we do something to get this project moving and get it built".

In the next several months, the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority will iron out their financial plan, very likely with a smaller toll, and a sizeable discount for frequent commuters. They have given themselves a December 31st deadline.

While the plan isn't set in stone, the new East End Bridge is scheduled to open with tolls in 2017 and the new Downtown and revamped Kennedy bridge with tolls in 2020.

[Click here to read the Ohio River Bridges Funding Report]
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Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.

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