Group pushes for relief on tolls for low income drivers - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Group pushes for relief on tolls for low income drivers

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Mitsy Trunell Mitsy Trunell
The Ohio River Bridges project officials asked for input because while initial rates have been released, there could be some changes. The Ohio River Bridges project officials asked for input because while initial rates have been released, there could be some changes.
Chuck Wolfe Chuck Wolfe

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – "It's not fair or reasonable to impose tolls on the working poor," that was the message from a group of state and local lawmakers who showed up to voice their concerns at the Ohio River Bridges tolling open meeting.

Under current plans, low income drivers and TARC buses will have to pay the same tolls like everybody else. That's why the Ohio River Bridges project officials asked for input because while initial rates have been released, there could be some changes.

As a single mother of two, Mitsy Trunell crosses the Kennedy Bridge from Louisville into Indiana several days a week to attend Ivy Tech in hopes of bettering her life.   

"My travel expenses just to go to school are 9% of my monthly income and if the $2 toll is enacted, I would have to pay 17% of my monthly income just to go to school," said Trunell. 

She is also apart of a non profit, grass roots organization called "Women in Transition". On Tuesday, transportation departments from both sides of the river welcomed comments from the public on the toll impacts for low income and minority drivers.
 
During this meeting, across the hall inside the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage, a large group of state and local lawmakers held a press conference to voice their concerns outside of the meeting. 

"If a person has low income, they are paying the same as a person who has a much higher income really the impact is disproportionate," said Senator Gerald Neal, (D) Louisville. 

Several state senators and representatives support House Bill 129. It will be reintroduced and would offer reimbursements for people who qualify for a federal tax credit, whose job requires a commute over the river. It would also exempt TARC buses form tolls. 

"Tolls to pay for this project is not something that really either state wanted to do, but it is the only way to get it done," said Chuck Wolfe, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. 

Tolls won't be in place until the bridges are complete in 2016, so Trunell will likely be done as a student at Ivy Tech by then, but she worries for people in the future in her same situation.

"I'm not the only person that I know that goes across the bridge to go to school or to go to work," said Trunell. 

The Sherman Minton and Clark Memorial Bridges will remain toll free. 
     
There are a few days left to offer comments online on the draft report before it is submitted to the Federal Highway Association. You can do so by clicking, here. 

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