In Northern Kentucky, uncertainty persists about for whom the bridge tolls (get charged to)

11/11/2013 09:39 AM

To get a new bridge in Northern Kentucky in the near future, officials and residents in the area are beginning to resign themselves to the fact that tolls will have to be a part of the funding.

“I think it needs to be probably some combination of federal, state, local and you almost have to throw some type of tolling in there because how are we going to get these people who are not from this area to pay for it,” said Paul Meier, the Crestview Hills mayor, at the Nov. 4 public meeting about the future of the proposed bridge.

The $2.5 billion proposed bridge is meant to take pressure off the outdated Brent Spence Bridge that carries all I-75 and I-71 traffic across the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both have said tolling needs to be a part of the financing or else the bridge can’t be built.

As Don Weber reported from last week’s meeting, Northern Kentuckians are begrudgingly coming to that conclusion that it won’t be built any time soon without tolls.

One of those legislators on the Nov. 4 panel about the bridges was Republican state Rep. Adam Koenig of Erlanger. He suggested that if tolls are necessary, officials should find a way to give rebates or tax credits to Northern Kentucky residents to offset the costs of tolls.

In an interview last week with Pure Politics, Koenig said Northern Kentuckians are still “vehemently opposed” to the idea of tolling but also know they — and the country — need a new bridge that can help carry traffic and commerce across the Ohio River.

“So many of our jobs are across the river in Cincinnati, and so many of our people go there,” he said, estimating that $4 tolls per day could cost those people $1,000 a year.

He explained some of the options that he said are worth exploring (5:30 of the interview):

(Correction — Paul Meier was incorrectly identified in an earlier edition of this post and in the package that aired Nov. 5. He is the mayor of Crestview Hills.)

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