Three candidates for Louisville mayor addressed members of the local hospitality industry Tuesday.
The Greater Louisville Hotel and Lodging Association sponsored a debate with independent Jackie Green, Democrat Greg Fischer and Republican Hal Heiner. Most of the discussion focused on attracting tourists to Louisville, and the Ohio River Bridges Project was also brought up.
Fischer and Heiner both say they favor the construction of two new bridges, but do not like the plan to use tolls to finance the project. Fischer said an assumption of $3 tolls used in a recent financial demonstration is too high.
“That’s absurd. That’s ridiculous,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a tolling structure that is low toll for local commuters and then a higher toll for pass-through traffic. 50% of the traffic on I-65 just drives on through town. I don’t have a problem with them paying more.”
Heiner said he would attempt to rework the project if tolls were too high.
“If we can keep it under a dollar, I support it,” he said. “If we can’t, we need to look at streamlining the project and especially the downtown project. I’m not convinced that of the $4 billion we need to spend $2 billion to relocate Spaghetti Junction. I think there may be another way.”
Green said public transit and rail must be improved before any new bridges can be deemed necessary.
“We should be the hub between Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Nashville. And then on the local level, we need a very strong, world-class public transit system,” he said.
The full debate: