Ohio River Bridges tolls still on original target, consultant says
$1 per crossing for ‘frequent user’ with transponder
FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 19, 2013) – A consulting firm preparing a traffic and revenue study for the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project indicated today that base toll rates are likely to hit the previously announced targets, including a $1 rate for a “frequent user” with a transponder.
Other “assumed rates” – all reflecting use of transponders and tolls automatically debited from an account – are $2 for other two-axle vehicles, $5 per “medium” truck and $10 per “heavy” truck.
The assumed rates were outlined in a briefing today to the Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority (KPTIA), which will be selling toll revenue bonds to help finance the Downtown Crossing, the portion of the bi-state project that Kentucky is procuring and financing.
The traffic and revenue study, by the international firm of Steer Davies Gleave, is not yet completed, nor has an official set of toll rates been adopted. Toll rate setting will be the job of a Kentucky-Indiana Joint Tolling Board, which includes leaders of the two states’ transportation and finance agencies.
“It appears that we’re on track to meet our goal of fair and reasonable toll rates to help finance a major transportation improvement for the region,” said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock, who is also chairperson of the KPTIA board.
The Downtown Crossing includes a new bridge for northbound lanes of Interstate 65 between Louisville and Jeffersonville, Ind., and reconfiguration of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge to carry southbound I-65. In addition, new bridge approaches are being constructed on both sides of the river. Indiana is responsible for building and financing the East End Crossing – a bridge with approaches between Utica, Ind., and Prospect, Ky. Both crossings are being financed by a combination of tax dollars and toll revenues.
The long-awaited project, needed to improve safety and cross-river mobility, once was estimated to cost $4.1 billion. Through the leadership of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the cost was dramatically pared to $2.6 billion, but toll revenues are needed to supplement bond proceeds and other available, traditional funding.
The two states will use all-electronic tolling, in which users of the bridges can pay tolls in one of two ways:
A vehicle-mounted electronic transponder that sends a signal to devices in overhead gantries, which debit tolls from an established account.
High-resolution video that captures images of a vehicle’s license plate to send bills to bridge users.
There is no cash option, and thus no toll plazas, which would cause traffic congestion the bridges are intended to relieve. A final traffic and revenue study is expected in about a month, a necessary step in advance of bond sales this spring to help finance construction of the Downtown Crossing.