Photo Video
Eric Clajus
Hide Caption

Trucking firms concerned about possible Brent Spence Bridge tolls

All funding options for new span being explored

a a a a
Share this story

FAIRFIELD, Ohio - The possibility of tolls to help pay for a new Brent Spence Bridge is is sending chills through Greater Cincinnati's trucking industry.

Issues being raised include more congestion, more fuel being used, more idle time for drivers and what they could add to the cost of goods and services traveling across the span between Cincinnati and Covington.

"A toll on the Brent Spence Bridge could mean that 20 percent of our revenue on local moves is going to pay a toll to cross the Brent Spence Bridge," said Brant Osborne, Executive Vice-President of Fairfield-based Osborne Trucking.

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to create campaign called "Build Our New Bridge Now" to fast-track a replacement.  The boards of both groups approved the effort on Monday and began raising $1 million for an education campaign.

Since Washington isn't in a position to contribute much to the $2.4 billion price tag, the combined chambers are exploring every possible funding option. That includes tolls

"I really hate it when I hear people refer to them as tolls," said Julie Janson, Chair of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. "I personally refer to them as a user fee."

Ohio Governor John Kasich is also on board with the idea of exploring the tolling option.

"There are all kinds of ways we can look at grinding out more infrastructure," he said Tuesday in Franklin.  "Sometimes, it's appropriate to toll."

As a driver for Osborne Trucking, Mark Fuller traverses the Brent Spence Bridge several times a day.  He doesn't like it.

"It's pretty much a lot of traffic every day," he said Friday.  "You just know you're going to wait for a while and it's going to take you a little while to go through it."

In Fuller's mind, tolls will further slow traffic down and make things more congested.

"It's going to create a bigger problem than what they have now," he said. "It's going to cause a lot of backups."

Russ Rice also drives for Osborne Trucking and said the aging span is congested every time he crosses it.

"You just fight it every single day," he said.

Rice agrees with Fuller that tolls will add to the congestion.

"It's hard to tell how far it would back things up," he added.

Osborne said the company's margins aren't at the point where the extra expense of tolls can be absorbed.  That leaves him with one option.

"We're going to have to pass that along to our customers, who are going to have to pass that along to their customers and ultimately that means that Joe and Sue Public are going to wind up having to pay more for goods," he said.

No specific toll amount has been mentioned, but Osborne said his firm has checked on fees charged for bridges in other major cities and found they can range between $25 and $65.

However, he said that's not acceptable and Washington should do more to help.

"Let's face it.  Our country spends a lot of money every year on a lot of boondoogle ventures," he said.  "A bridge that transports millions and millions of dollars worth of cargo and people and cars every day is something that Washington needs to take note of and help out a little bit more."

If tolls become a reality, Osborne has a remedy in mind -- at least for his company.

"Drivers coming from our facility here in Fairfield down to Walton and Florence are probably going to go around Interstate 275 or Interstate 471," he said.  "It's just what makes sense for us as a business."

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

More on Brent Spence
Why is Duke pushing so hard for new bridge?
Why is Duke pushing so hard for new bridge?

Covington City Commissioner Steve Frank wonders if Duke's property interests could be influencing the company's advocacy for the…

Did political shenanigans nix heroin bill?
Did political shenanigans nix heroin bill?

As political and business leaders sort through the aftermath of 2014 Kentucky General Assembly, some are wondering whether an effort to help…

Ky governor: Allow tolls on N.Ky. bridge project
Ky governor: Allow tolls on N.Ky. bridge project

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has vetoed a bill that would ban the use of tolls to pay for a northern Kentucky bridge.

What's next for $2.63B Brent Spence Bridge plan?
What's next for $2.63B Brent Spence Bridge plan?

As the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly draws to a close, local business leaders are trying to figure out how to keep the bridge replacement…

Is Brent Spent Bridge project DOA in Ky.?
Is Brent Spent Bridge project DOA in Ky.?

To keep the $2.63 billion Brent Spence Bridge project moving, Kentucky lawmakers must take action during their 2014 session. Some think…

New Brent Spence Bridge needs billions in tolls
New Brent Spence Bridge needs billions in tolls

State transportation officials in Ohio and Kentucky on Tuesday filed an initial financial plan for the $2.63B Brent Spence Bridge project,…

Lawmakers seek to ease Brent Spence toll pain
Lawmakers seek to ease Brent Spence toll pain

Northern Kentucky Forum hosted a panel Monday to discuss how to fund the $2.5 billion Brent Spence Bridge project, and the options aren't…

Study: Tolls needed for new Brent Spence Bridge
Study: Tolls needed for new Brent Spence Bridge

Tolls to pay for the $2.5B Brent Spence Bridge replacement project could range from $1 to $2 for cars up to $5 to $10 for heavy trucks, a new…

Brent Spence Bridge project could start in 2015
Brent Spence Bridge project could start in 2015

Top transportation officials from Ohio and Kentucky on Monday offered a progress report on the $2.5 billion Brent Spence Bridge project.

Panel: Tolls a necessary evil to build bridges
Panel: Tolls a necessary evil to build bridges

Two Louisville leaders tell group assembled in Northern Kentucky that they accepted tolls as the only way to get bridges built there.