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Louisville Council members want tolls taken off Ohio River bridges

A bipartisan group of Louisville Metro Council members has filed a resolution calling for Kentucky and Indiana leaders to remove the tolls from the region’s Ohio River Bridges Project.

Led by Metro Council President David James, a Democrat, the resolution follows a similar call made by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer earlier this month.

The request comes as Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine say they will work with federal leaders to get a new bridge built between Cincinnati and its northern Kentucky suburbs without tolls. That’s due to the possibility of getting funds Congress set aside for transportation projects in the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill President Biden signed into law last November.

The Ohio River Bridges Project includes two spans that opened in 2015 and 2016. The project built the Lewis and Clark Bridge in Louisville’s East End and the Abraham Lincoln Bridge that connects downtown Louisville to Jeffersonville, Ind. It also reconfigured the adjacent John F. Kennedy Bridge and Spaghetti Junction intersection in downtown Louisville at a cost of more than $2.3 billion.

The project is being paid for by tolls on all three bridges. Tolls are expected to run at least for another 31 years.

When tolling began in 2016, costs for passenger vehicles ran between $2 and $4 depending on if drivers registered for a transponder, a tolling account or both. Tolls rise annually by at least 2.5% but may rise higher depending on inflation.

Fischer, in his statement earlier this month, said that push to build a bridge to alleviate traffic on the Brent Spence Bridge between Covington and Cincinnati reminded him of the four-decade effort by Louisville and Southern Indiana leaders to get their congestion issues resolved.

“I’d like to see the Kentucky legislature, Gov. Beshear, [Indiana] Gov. [Eric] Holcomb and the Indiana legislature direct some federal infrastructure dollars to the Ohio River Bridges Project as well,” the mayor said. “So, we can take a burden off the hard-working families here and businesses in Louisville and southern Indiana. They certainly deserve that.”

Beshear has been noncommittal to Louisville’s request. However, he said during a press conference earlier this month that it’s something worth considering.

Besides James, other sponsors include Democratic Councilmembers Markus Winker, Mark Fox, Keisha Dorsey and Jecorey Arthur. Councilmembers Anthony Piagentini and Scott Reed are the Republican sponsors.

The resolution has been assigned to the Council’s Public Works Committee.

This article was originally posted on Louisville Council members want tolls taken off Ohio River bridges

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