Louisville bridges electronic tolling procedures in process of finalization

10/06/2015 06:17 PM

SPARTA – Details are still being worked out with the single all-electronic tolling system that will be used for collecting tolls for the Kennedy and two new Louisville bridges.

Indiana and Kentucky have signed a 7-year contract with Kapsch to construct, test, and operate the system. Officials with the Kentucky Transportation cabinet told lawmakers today at the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation, held at Kentucky Speedway, that no one will have the ability to pay cash and believe that it will improve safety, as well as save time and money.

Transportation officials estimate that there are 10-12 all-electronic tolling systems being utilized across the country.

Motorists will have an option in which they can open a prepaid account and place a transponder in their vehicle. The transponder will be recognized on the bridge, and the appropriate toll would then be deducted from the account. The toll for transponder use will be $1 for a frequent user passenger vehicle, $2 for a passenger vehicle, $5 for a medium truck and $10 for a heavy truck.

Another option will be a registered video in which a customer opens an account, but chooses not to put a transponder in their vehicle. Their license plate is recognized as they cross the bridge, and the appropriate toll is deducted from their account. The toll for this option will be $3 for a passenger vehicle, $6 for a medium truck, and $11 for a heavy truck.

The third and most expensive option is an unregistered video in which a motorist choose not to establish an account. Their license plate is photographed as they cross the bridge and an invoice is sent to the registered owner for the amount owed. The unregistered video option toll is $4 for a passenger vehicle, $7 for a medium truck and $12 for a heavy truck.

Transponders will be available online, at a customer service center, and selected retail outlets. Local transponders, which can only be used for the three bridges will be free, while E-ZPass transponders, which can be used on any toll facility in the country, will cost less than $20.

If a motorist doesn’t pay, a series of reminders will be mailed to the registered vehicle owner with fees charged to cover the increased cost of collection. Eventually, a customer will receive a violation notice along with additional fees. Enforcement may include a vehicle registration renewal hold, collections activities, and potential legal action.

Officials are currently looking to get reciprocal agreements with states outside of Kentucky and Indiana.

Business rules are to be finalized in the next month which will include any processing fee which will be charged to motorists to mail in their payments.

Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, expressed his doubts about the system to David Talley, Innovative Finance Manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Riggs is concerned about additional costs in collecting the tolls from motorists who don’t have the accounts.

“There have to be a big group of personnel who have to do the research on that license plate,” Riggs said.

Talley responded that then number of personnel is the responsibility of Kapsch per the rules of the contract signed.

“We pay by service levels, so if we have between 75 to 125 thousand transactions every month, we pay a base rate for that,” Talley said. “So, we essentially get to collect $100,000 for a fixed fee, and so the amount of personnel that it takes for the company to achieve that is a cost function that’s on them.”

Rep. John Short, D-Mallie, expressed concerns about special situations including motorists who do not receive their invoices and people with temporary tags.

Talley said that there will be additional procedures used in an effort to collect payment in those instances.

“We will send information to the registered owner of the vehicle and then we’ll use skip tracing and other third party means to the fullest extent that we can to try to track down folks who’ve moved and not updated their license information,” Talley said.

Sen. C.B. Embry, R-Morgantown, questioned Talley about what percentage of tolls will not be collected due to various situations.

“People have heart attacks, they die, they have a stroke, go into the hospital and on to the rest home, what percent do you figure do you lose in this regard,” Embry asked.

Talley referred to a traffic and revenue study which was conducted in 2013 to support the bond sale.

“As much as two and a half percent of all tolls due would not be collected,” Talley said.

Talley told committee member that there will be a push to get as many motorist to use the transponders because that will be the cheapest way to collect fairs.

After the business plans are finalized next month, a public information campaign will begin and continue through 2016 and beyond. It’s expected that the system to open accounts will be in place by Spring 2016 and be capable of collecting tolls by Fall 2016.

About Don Weber

Don Weber joined cn|2 when it launched back in May 2010 and soon became a reporter for Pure Politics. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and has spent many years covering everything from politics to sports. Don says he loves meeting new people everyday as part of his job and also enjoys the fact that no two days are the same when he comes to work. Don Weber can be reached at donald.weber@charter.com.

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