, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, August 20, 2014
A study is planned to determine and analyze the effects of tolling a reconstructed Brent Spence Bridge. Trucking interests are weighing in on what comes next for the bridge that links Cincinnati, Ohio, with northern Kentucky.
State lawmakers in both states spent much time this year trying to nail down funding plans for a new $2.6 billion bridge.
Open to traffic in 1963, the current structure carries twice as many vehicles per day than it was designed to accommodate. Today, it is used to transport $417 billion worth of goods each year.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law this spring authorizing toll taxes to pay off reconstruction of the state’s portion of the bridge that carries Interstates 71 and 75. However, Kentucky lawmakers were opposed to plans to work with a private group to construct, operate and finance the project.
At a stalemate on the funding issue, about $8 million in taxpayer money will be used to study the impacts of tolling a new structure. Specifically, the economic and environmental effects of a new bridge will be studied.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to toll plans. The Association previously sent Calls to Action to truckers in both states and communicated with state lawmakers conveying the concerns of professional truckers.
On behalf of 1,350 motor carriers and 9,700 independent truckers in Ohio and Kentucky, OOIDA, the Kentucky Motor Transport Association and the Ohio Trucking Association this week made their concerns about tolls known to both governors.
In a joint letter to Gov. Kasich and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, the groups requested that the potential effects of tolling to the trucking industry be included as part of the study.
“Tolling the Brent Spence Bridge will affect the trucking industry significantly,” the letter reads. “The exact impact is unknown and will vary depending on a number of factors, such as costs, frequency of use, alternate toll-free routes, and type of operation.”
The trucking groups caution the governors that “if these factors and their subsequent impacts are not considered and understood during the course of the study, it could very well undermine the future viability of the overall project and defeat its intended purpose.”
As part of the study, public meetings are planned in Cincinnati and Covington, Ky.
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