Ohio and Kentucky governors say tolls have to help pay for part of new twin to Brent Spence Bridge

12/12/2012 04:45 PM

COVINGTON — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Ohio Gov.John Kasich laid the groundwork for the a new bridge to carry interstate traffic between Covington and Cincinnati and said tolls must pay for part of the $2.5 billion project.

The two governors — with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood looking on — signed a memorandum of understanding between Ohio and Kentucky to make the bridge a reality by as early as the end of 2017.

Tolls have been a big sticking point with many, including the Northern Kentucky legislators and the Northern Kentucky Tea Party, who are on record against any tolling.

However, Beshear said that if a new bridge is to be built, tolls are necessary.

“Quite honestly, I don’t know that you’ll be able to put any kind of financing package that will actually get this done if you don’t include tolls as a part of it,” he said.

Kasich, a Republican, agreed and said he wants to see the tolls removed once the bridge debt is paid.

“It’s not going to get done unless this is a component of it,” Kasich said.

However, both governors acknowledged that they didn’t know how long it would take for the tolls and public financing to pay off the bonds for the new project. .

It wouldn’t be an isolated case.

“We have bridge proposals, a number of them pending right now and every one of them has tolling as a part of the source of funding,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said.

The governors estimate that the the cost of the bridge will be approximately $2.5 billion. The goal is to begin construction as early as 2014 and complete it in three years.

The new bridge would be a double-decker and would carry both directions of Interstate 75, plus southbound lanes of I-71 and three southbound lanes of local traffic.

The 49-year-old Brent Spence Bridge would get an upgrade and carry northbound lanes of I-71 on its upper deck and three lanes of northbound local traffic on its lower deck.

Beshear said the new bridge is essential to the regional economy and is way overdue.

The Brent Spence Bridge opened on November 25, 1963 and was built for 85,000 vehicles a day. Estimates are that the bridge currently has close to 200,000 vehicles
using it daily.

Other key points of the agreement between Kentucky and Ohio include:

-The two states will create a Bi-State Management Team to oversee financing and construction contracts. It will be made up of officials from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

-The work performed in Ohio will be governed by the laws of Ohio, while the work performed in Kentucky will be governed by its laws.


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