The co-chair of the Ohio River Bridges Authority says every major element of the bridges project could be tolled, including Spaghetti Junction.
The project has three parts–a reconfigured Spaghetti Junction, a new downtown bridge and a new bridge in eastern Jefferson County. The authority is trying to figure out how to generate the 4.1 billion dollars needed to pay for all three. Members previously discussed tolling new and existing bridges, but in a meeting Thursday, they reviewed proposals for tolling east-west interstate traffic through downtown Louisville.
Authority co-chair Kerry Stemler says tolls would only be one part of the eventual financing plan, but a toll on Spaghetti Junction is just as possible as any other.
“I won’t render an opinion on how likely it is. I will tell you it definitely will be looked at, and seriously looked at, at all options. There is nothing that’s not on the table to look at, so it will be seriously considered.”
Several people spoke in opposition to tolls during the public comment portion of the meeting. Some cited a recent poll that showed the majority of Louisvillians opposed to two new bridges and Spaghetti Junction. Shawn Reilly of the Say No To Bridge Tolls group told the authority the three parts of the project should be built separately and at different times to keep costs down and avoid tolls.
“By taking a common-sense look at the Ohio River Bridges Project, one can clearly see that there are at least three operationally-independent phases of work: the east-end bridge, the downtown bridge and the reconfiguration of spaghetti junction,” he said.
Stemler says the whole project will be built.
The authority also looked at the effectiveness of tolls between fifty cents and three dollars. The body hopes to have a financing plan for tolls put together by December.