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.
The project managers for a new Ohio River bridge between Indiana and Kentucky say makeshift homeless camps in the new span's path need to be moved soon.
Indiana and Kentucky officials told members of the Jeffersonville-Clarksville Homelessness Task Force on Thursday that the homeless residents need to be moved so crews can clear land for the new bridge's ramps.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet project manager Andy Barber told the panel it's unsafe for people to be in the construction zone without protective equipment.
The Courier-Journal reports Walsh Construction project manager Blake Morris told task force members crews planned to begin clearing land near one camp area late this week.
Task force member the Rev. Jim Moon says homeless advocates "need a little more time than that."
Transportation officials from Kentucky and Indiana told Louisville Metro Council members that construction on two new bridges over the Ohio River is projected to start at nearly the same time next summer.
The Courier-Journal reports that Indiana Department of Transportation project manager Ron Heustis said he expects construction on the eastern bridge, which will link Utica, Ind., and Prospect, Ky., to start in June.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet project manager Andy Barber says he expects construction on the downtown span, which will connect Louisville, Ky., and New Albany, Ind., to begin in July.
A group that opposes two new planned Ohio River bridges is asking a judge to force Indiana and Kentucky to halt spending on the projects. The Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation made the request in a motion seeking an injunction filed Wednesday in Louisville, Ky.