AAA members agree new bridge needed, local funding an issue
Brian Mains, WCPO Digital
12:00 PM, Feb 6, 2013
12:33 PM, Feb 6, 2013
CINCINNATI - Mirroring the larger debate amongst policy makers, a recent AAA Allied Group member survey reveals that while most residents agree on the need for a replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge, how to fund its construction is a contentious issue.
A recent survey of nearly 3,000 Hamilton County and Northern Kentucky residents reveal 90 percent of respondents are in favor of replacing the bridge, while the two regions were evenly split on how to pay, or not to pay, for it.
More than 170,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day. The structure is considered functionally obsolete in part because of a lack of a shoulder and smaller than standard lanes.
According to the survey, 52 percent of respondents in Ohio were in favor of using tolls for funding, while 52 percent of respondents in Kentucky were opposed.
In January, Kentucky's Democrat Governor Steve Beshear and Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich signed a cooperative agreement pledge to seek a shared local funding mechanism to build the bridge that would most likely involve tolls. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he did not want to see an interstate bridge project without local funding, most likely an 80-20 split between federal and local funding on the $2. billion project.
As a driver advocacy and road safety group, AAA said it is generally against tolls for roads.
And though the thought of tolls nearly evenly split survey participants, the opinion of using a sales tax to fund the bridge was much more clear. Among Ohio AAA members, 72 percent opposed the idea of a sales tax to fund bridge building and 69 percent of Kentucky respondents felt the same way.
Additionally, both Kentuckians and Ohioans felt about the same when it came to increasing taxes on gasoline as a funding mechanism to replace the bridge, according to the AAA survey. Of Ohioans, 72.4 percent of respondents opposed a gas tax increase, in comparison to 73.7 percent of Kentuckians.
The Brent Spence has a major impact on the region with 75% of overall respondents using the bridge either sometimes or daily. The greatest impact is on Kentucky respondents who are more likely to use the bridge daily.
· 82 percent of Kentucky members use the bridge, 33% of them every day
· 71 percent of Ohio members use the bridge, 7% of them every day
Economic benefit of new bridge
When asked "Do you feel that a new Brent Spence Bridge will benefit the region economically?" a majority of respondents believed it would have some positive impact on the region.
· 67.4 percent of Ohio members thought there would be some benefit
· 75.9 percent of Kentucky members felt the same way
What do you think about the use of tolls or a sales tax to locally fund the bridge? Let us know your comments in the section below.