Anti-toll petition nets more than 10,000 signatures

| Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An anti-toll group based in Louisville, KY, recently submitted 10,300 signatures in opposition to a plan that calls for tolls to be levied on existing bridges.

Shawn Reilly, founder of the group Say No to Bridge Tolls, said the signatures were sent to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s office.

“We’re asking Secretary LaHood not to allow tolls on existing infrastructure,” Reilly said.

Truckers and trucking companies are among those deeply entrenched in the fight to keep the Sherman Minton, John F. Kennedy, East Side and U.S. 31 bridges toll free. Meanwhile, the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridge Authority is pushing ahead with plans to toll two or more of the bridges to pay about half the tab for the estimated $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges Project.

That project involves building two new bridges – which would also be tolled – and reconstructing the Spaghetti Junction interchange.

The bridge authority voted Dec. 16 to advance a financial plan to combine local, state and federal dollars with toll revenue. The financial plan did not specifically recommend which bridges would be tolled, but acknowledged tolls as the preferred method.

Reilly says the financial planners made a lot of assumptions in their report.

“The initial financial plan that they voted on raises more questions than it provides answers because it assumes a lot of things that haven’t been determined yet,” Reilly told Land Line Magazine on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

“It assumes the federal government is going to allow them to toll existing roads and infrastructure. The federal government hasn’t given them approval for that yet, so they’re making assumptions that aren’t accurate yet.”

Reilly also says the authority has not yet completed its traffic study, so estimates about potential toll revenue are speculative at best.

OOIDA stands with the anti-toll group in opposition to tolls on existing infrastructure. The Association has issued calls to action in recent months to members in Indiana and Kentucky to attend public hearings and speak their minds on the issue.

Reilly said truckers and trucking companies are well represented on his anti-toll petition.

“We had trucking companies involved in that petition, and we were excited to have them,” he said.

The highway users are not alone. Nine area city and county governments have passed no-toll resolutions, Reilly said. He included the results of those recent votes with the boxes of signatures sent to the U.S. DOT.

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