The prospect of bridge tolls is once again dominating the discussion of an infrastructure bill in the Kentucky General Assembly.
The House Budget Committee passed a road plan funding bill today. But before voting, lawmakers questioned the need for tolls on bridges in Louisville and Northern Kentucky.
Committee members asked whether the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville would be tolled to help fund new spans downtown and in the city’s east end. Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says that was discussed, but it’s unlikely.
“The project itself as it’s identified does not include tolling for the Sherman Minton Bridge. The report that you referenced, referenced those amount of possible future revenues for illustrative purposes,” Hancock says.
Hancock did not commit to whether the Minton would be tolled if it is rebuilt, as expected, in the next twenty years.
“But we do realize that some point in the future that large bridge in the Metropolitan area will need to be replaced. And we will have many considerations to deal with at that point and time. And to sit here today 20 years in the future and to make unequivocal statements about what will or won’t happen at this point is impossible and I will not do that,” he says.
That didn’t please some Louisville lawmakers on the committee, who noted that the Sherman Minton is the cross-river route nearest several of Louisville’s poorer neighborhoods and tolls are more punitive to those groups.
The Louisville Courier-Journal has reported that tolls may be used in the next 20 years to finance a replacement for the Sherman Minton Bridge. Hancock declined to verify that report.