I-75 bridge in Cincinnati will be tolled, officials say

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 1/24/2013

An Interstate 75 bridge linking Cincinnati, OH, and northern Kentucky will carry a toll once it is replaced, and rates will be set to capture a good chunk of revenue from through traffic, including trucks.

Ohio and Kentucky officials have decided to explore tolling to generate revenue and secure a federal grant for the Brent Spence Bridge replacement. Without tolls, the $2.88 billion project would take decades to finish, officials said, but with tolls the two states can expedite the project.

Critics of the toll option – a group that includes truckers – say a toll smack dab in the middle of I-75 not only is a double tax on mobility and commerce, but will force many truckers to find another way around.

“By taking a toll-free piece of infrastructure, especially a bridge, and making it a toll road, it raises huge concerns about the impact it’s going to have on the trucking community,” said Ryan Bowley, director of legislative affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

A consultant report prepared for the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments shows the plan targets through traffic with the highest rates while giving local residents a break on tolls.

“They’re setting up the toll structure in a way that the bulk of payment will come from through travelers, including truckers, while local residents get toll discounts,” Bowley said.

Studies have shown that truckers will take secondary routes to avoid a toll road or bridge. OOIDA and other trade associations say that’s precisely what will happen once the I-75 bridge carries a toll.

“It only serves as a disincentive to use that facility,” Bowley said.

According to the project report, money collected from bridge users will help fund improvements to eight miles of I-75 and I-71 in the Cincinnati region.

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