Northern Kentucky judge-executives discuss whether tolls should remain an option for new Ohio River bridge

09/29/2015 06:10 PM

ERLANGER – Judge-executives from Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties are somewhat split as to whether tolls should be part of the equation in building a new Brent Spence Bridge.

The four judge-executives appeared together Tuesday morning for the annual Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce State of Northern Kentucky Address in Erlanger.

Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore says that he doesn’t favor tolls, he does feel that it has to remain part of the discussion if a new bridge is to become a reality.

Moore believes that local officials at the county and city level need to work with the federal delegation and be involved in the discussion.

“I believe all options should stay on the table and that includes tolls,” Moore said. “I don’t want tolls. In the end, I hope that they are not part of the solution but how can you sit down and solve a problem if you’re not considering all of the options.”

Grant County Judge-Executive Steve Wood opposes tolls and feels that the federal government should fund a new bridge since it is a vital north-south link in the country.

“This is a federal bridge, and the federal government should have the money to pay for it,” Wood said. “I am against tolls, but if we fail to maintain a safe corridor for commerce, we can call it quits and go home.”

Kenton County Judge-Executive Kris Knochelmann thinks that before people say tolls or no tolls, they need to come up with solid ideas of how to pay for a new structure.

“Everybody’s got great ideas on where to spend the money, but we really don’t have a lot of great ideas of where we’re going to come up with the revenue to pay for it,” Knochelmann said. “We have to be consistent. We have to be professional about the discussion. I do believe in this debate, the personal attacks need to cease.”

Campbell County Judge-Executive Steve Pendery says that all of the federal gas tax money is already being returned to the state and feels that the decision will rest with the General Assembly as to how a new bridge is financed. He believes that it’s unrealistic to think that a new bridge can be constructed without tolls being part of the solution.

“The floor should be what Louisville got,” Pendery said. “They’re about 50 percent tolls, and with that deal being done, I don’t know how anybody out there expects we’re going to get away with not having tolls.”


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