Residents oppose bridge tolls at Brent Spence meeting
WCPO Digital Staff , Amy Wadas
11:07 PM, Feb 19, 2013
7:18 PM, Feb 20, 2013
COVINGTON, Ky. - Northern Kentucky residents expressed their concerns about the controversial Brent Spence Bridge project at a public meeting Tuesday night.
The fiscal court presented a resolution at the meeting, which outlined a plan to take the financial burden of the new bridge off residents in Ohio and Kentucky. The court wants the U.S government to recognize the Brent Spence Bridge as a project of national significance and provide 80 percent of the funding.
An average of 172,000 vehicles cross the Brent Spence Bridge everyday, which carries $417 billion in freight a year. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the bridge functionally obsolete.
"While we know the bridge is not going to come crashing down into the river, we do know it's very dangerous, emergency lanes been removed, carrying twice traffic should on daily basis," said Libby Korosec, director of Build Our Bridge Coalition.
However, installing tolls to pay for the $2.7 billion in construction cost is something Tri-State residents don't want to consider.
"Adding a toll is another tax, and another attack on the middle class, the working people who go to Cincinnati to work," said Tri-State driver Phyllis Sparks.
"This highway was a mistake since day one," said resident Dan Hull at the meeting.
Currently the Brent Spence Bridge is under a value for a money study. Ohio and Kentucky are working together to figure out the best way to pay for the project. Whether its tolls or federal funds, the goal is to minimize costs and prevent diversion so drivers use other routes to avoid the bridge.
Residents fear tolls will drain the local economy and create traffic jams. They want other alternatives to be considered.
Now that the fiscal court made their resolution, the Kentucky General Assembly will decide if tolls should be added. The governors of Ohio and Kentucky say Washington doesn't have the money for the bridge and that tolls will likely to pay for the new bridge.