A committee of Kentucky and Indiana officials has approved toll rates for the Ohio River Bridges Project after years of research and debate.
The bi-state tolling body unanimously approved toll rates Wednesday of one to twelve dollars, depending on vehicle size and mode of crossing.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock says despite some strong opposition to tolling, they’re necessary to pay for the new End East and downtown bridges and reworking of Spaghetti Junction.
“This is where we wound up after months and months of intense studies so we’re comfortable that it’s certainly not going to be palatable to everyone but it’s an environment in which we can be successful," said Hancock.
Two regional business owners addressed the tolling body Wednesday. Both requested the states consider a discount for large trucks that will bear the highest costs.
But Hancock says the set rates are comparable to national averages.
After delaying action on toll rates for the Ohio River Bridges Project last week, the bi-state committee in charge of setting rates will meet Wednesday to finish the job.
It was a surprise to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock last week, when Indiana officials said they weren’t ready to approve tolls.
Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said the delay shouldn’t be considered opposition to the suggested tolls rates, ranging from one to twelve dollars. He said it was just a matter of getting paperwork together.
Hancock was concerned though, and said Kentucky needs to set toll rates to find investors for its portion of the project’s cost.
“As interest rates go up obviously over a 35 year term of a financing deal that amounts to serious money, whether that’s millions I’m quite sure probably is," said Hancock.
State Rep. Sannie Overly has filed a bill that will allow the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to explore public-private partnerships to help construction projects with big price tags.
The bill doesn't specifically name any projects, but Kentucky currently has multiple instances where the bill could help work start, namely the Brent Spence Bridge in Northern Kentucky and Interstate 69 in western Kentucky.
Overly, a Paris Democrat, said the goal is to help the state have one more avenue to help fund its infrastructure projects.
"This bill is not designed for any one particular project, it is really nothing more than an additional tool in the toolbox of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet," she said.
Kentucky transportation officials say a team headed by Chicago firm Walsh Construction Co. is the apparent winner of bidding to build a new bridge over the Ohio River between downtown Louisville and Jeffersonville, Ind. The Transportation Cabinet said the proposals were scored Thursday in Frankfort.