Friday, November 05, 2010

No Tolls on EXISTING Bridges!

The Ohio River Bridges Project (ORBP) has become a highly controversial topic of late in these parts, due largely to the planners' intent to fund the project with tolls. I have admittedly not studied the project in great detail, and I do not profess to know all of the provisions and nuances pertaining to it. Still, I have a basic understanding of the project and as a life-long resident of the Louisville and Southern Indiana area, I have some very definite ideas.

The current plan, as I understand it, calls for the building of two new bridges: an East End bridge and another downtown bridge close to the Kennedy. The plan also calls for a revamping of Spaghetti Junction. It is contemplated that the project is to be funded in part by tolls--not only on the new bridges, but also on our existing bridges that have been paid for long ago.

The current plan causes me great concern and consternation on a couple of levels. First, I question why it is deemed necessary to build two bridges at the same time. I submit that anyone who has lived in this area for any length of time understands that an East End bridge is badly needed. The same cannot be said for a new downtown bridge. I believe that an East End bridge alone will alleviate most of the traffic problems that we currently have. Why not proceed with the East End bridge first, and then evaluate the traffic flow after its completion?

My second area of grave concern involves the imposition of tolls on existing bridges. I think that many people incorrectly assume that the proposed tolls being discussed apply only to the new bridges. If that were the case, I would have no problem with it. It would seem fair for someone to have to pay to use a new bridge until that bridge has been fully paid for. The same logic does not apply as a requirement for using bridges that we have all been using freely for many years. I would suggest that toll protesters change their signs from "No Tolls" to "No Tolls on Existing Bridges" to help the public understand what is actually being discussed here.

It does not seem that those in charge of the ORBP have adequately considered the impact that placing tolls on our existing bridges could have upon commerce in our area. The imposition of tolls on existing bridges could, it seems to me, greatly hamper businesses in both Southern Indiana and Louisville. I fear that Southern Indiana businesses would get the worst of it.

In the final analysis, I find the proposal to place tolls on our existing bridges to be ill advised, unfair and outrageous. I hope that all individuals who feel the same will let their voices be heard loudly and clearly--"NO TOLLS ON EXISTING BRIDGES!"