Bridge Authority takes action on long-term plans

Jeffersonville, IN - By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – It is a roughly $4 billion project that will forever change the look of Kentuckiana, while also changing traffic flow.

However, the bigger concern that seems to be emerging is how much it will cost those who use the main bridges.

The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridge Authority met Thursday, September 2 for their monthly meeting.

Members heard several presentations, but there is still nothing concrete when it comes to how much it could cost to drive across the bridge.

"We have to execute a finance plan that is fair, sound, and doable," said board member Joe Reagan.

That's one of the authority's goals.  As the board travels down the long road of possibilities to pay for the project, tolls continues to gain traction.

"There's no such thing as a free lunch.  We're going to look at what the revenue possibilities are, what the options are, and we're going to eliminate any marginal issues," Reagan said.

But that "lunch" will come at a substantial cost to businesses like the Clark County Auto Auction.

"It would cost us an additional $70,000 or in excess of $70,000 a year to pay the tolls going to and from the dealerships we do business with," Paul Fetter of the business said.

That's using the worst-case scenario of $3 each way.  As WAVE 3 reported last week, that price could be significantly lower, and could be decided by where you live and could even be as low as 50 cents.

Still, the group "Say no to bridge tolls" hopes leaders will wait *years* compared to months before making a decision.

"The economic situation would be vastly different, state revenues would be vastly higher, federal revenues would be vastly higher, and we haven't even passed the highway bill yet.  The highway bill might even have money in it for this project," Shawn Reilly of the group said.

The board says moving sooner would keep construction costs low, and put people to work immediately – something about three-dozen construction workers who gathered would love to see.

But one thing's for sure, as we approach the end of the year financing deadline, more people are making their voices heard.

The authority passed a resolution today to more clearly define their long-term goals, and to create thee committees to serve as a check-and-balances for the project.

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