Panel Agrees On Recommendations For Bridges Project

A committee of the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority is recommending that construction on the $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges project begin in August of 2012, and that frequent commuters be charged a one dollar toll to help pay for it.

The project includes new Ohio River bridges in downtown Louisville and eastern Jefferson County (right) and a reconfiguration of Spaghetti Junction.

Panel chairman Kerry Stemler says it remains to be seen whether the toll would be charged on just the new bridges or exsiting ones as well, which would require federal approval. He says the one dollar figure is a good starting point.

“That is a target, it’s a number and i think it’s a reasonable number. That’s an opinion of mine. Yours may be different or some other citizen. Remember, though, the total time this community has been paying and where we’re going, he said.

Stemler says more than $163 million has been spent over the years studying and acquiring right-of-way for the project.

The committee did not recommend toll rates for non-local traffic or commercial vehicles during its meeting Thursday. Stemler says that will be discussed later.

Dan Borsch, who heads the group No 2 Bridge Tolls says tolls of any amount would place a hardship on many motorists. He says the authority should find ways to cut costs and eliminate tolling as part of its funding mechanism.

The full authority will meet next week and will also hold a public hearing this month on its updated financing plan. The panel is looking at a combination of state and federal funds and tolling to pay for the project.