This is not a day for celebration. Today’s pact between Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Ohio Governor John Kasich means motorists will be charged tolls for access to a critical Ohio River crossing and commerce route that historically has been toll-free.
The disappointing fact is that two governors of different political parties support a tax increase on drivers who use a stretch of Interstates 71 and 75 which includes the Brent Spence Bridge. The words “taxes” and “tolls” have the same effect on drivers: They take hard-earned money out of their pockets. New tolls mean the price of getting goods to market will increase, leading to higher prices at the register for shoppers. They can also cause traffic diversion leading to premature wear and tear on secondary roads, and delay rescue workers from responding to emergencies.
Officials’ pledges that toll rates could be low because the project scope has been reduced, or that frequent bridge users may receive rate discounts if they use electronic transponders, are cold comfort to drivers now facing the prospect of new tolls, which are the worst possible way to pay for roads.
Also distressing about the Brent Spence Bridge plan is the transfer of a public road to a private operator that plans to use electronic toll collection methods which have proven to be both administratively inefficient and error-prone.
For these reasons and more, tolling existing interstates is always a bad decision by policymakers looking for ways to fund road repair and construction. We remain optimistic that Kentucky and Ohio will do the sensible thing and shun tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge.
To learn more about AFTI and join the Alliance please visit www.tollfreeinterstates.com. In addition to joining ATFI you can stay connected by following the Alliance on Twitter at @No2Tolls and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TollFreeInterstates.