Northern Kentucky Chamber backs public-private partnership plan with tolls for new bridge

02/28/2014 05:27 PM

FORT MITCHELL – The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted to support a public-private partnership — which would include tolls — to move forward in building a new companion to the Brent Spence Bridge across the Ohio River.

The $2.6 billion dollar project has been talked about for at least 13 years, but how to pay for it has been a sticking point as many citizens and Northern Kentucky legislators are on record as opposing any plan which includes tolls.

The chamber, which has 1,600 members, has taken the position that a bridge won’t be built if tolls are not part of the equation.

“This should now move the conversation from no bridge to let’s talk about the bridge,” said Debbie Simpson, chair of the chamber board. “So there’s a lot of conversation now that can start to happen that couldn’t happen before until we came out with our position.”

The next step for the chamber will be to convince Northern Kentucky legislators.

“By coming forth as representing the business community, we’re now voicing our opinion and what that does is send a message to our legislators that this isn’t only what we want in back room conversations, we’re telling you very loud, very clear publicly what we believe Northern Kentucky needs to be successful,” Simpson said.

Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce interim president Brent Cooper challenges others who disagree with the chamber’s stand to come up with a realistic alternative that will work in getting a new bridge constructed.

“To those who are critical of our stance on this, what’s your solution,” Cooper said. “We’ve looked at sales tax and it turns out that sales tax is worse. We’ve talked about doing nothing. Doing nothing is not an option.”

The chamber wants to protect the $60 million allocated in this year’s state road [lan for a new bridge as well as see public-private partnership legislation (House Bill 407) passed.


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