Protestors speak out against tolling - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Protestors speak out against tolling


In a filled meeting room at the Indiana University-Southeast campus, it wasn't difficult to spot the protestors at the Bridges Authority meeting.

"The majority of the community wants more bridges, not less, sooner not later with no tolls," says local architect Steve Wiser.

Holding yellow signs reading "No Tolls" and "Tolls are for Trolls", they're upset the authority is considering tolls to help pay the estimated $4.1 billion dollar price tag on the two proposed Ohio River Bridges.

"No tolls were mentioned as a funding source back then. So to me the community has been misinformed as to the cost, the schedule as how to fund this project," says Wiser.

17 people signed up to make a public comment. So many in fact the chairman had to ask half the people to come to next month's meeting to speak. Those who did get a chance to address the authority had varied opinions.

"Take donations, whatever, but get the thing started only on one bridge. You could build bridges forever, but you won't solve the problem by coming across the downtown area," said one person

"We did not actually make the Top 100 traffic bottlenecks in the United States, so why are we doing a $4 billion dollar project to solve this problem," said Dick Morris with the Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation

The authority brought in a consulting team who seemed to reaffirm at the meeting that tolling was just one option on the table. The authority chairman says they're looking at other funding mechanisms, such as taxes or partnering up with the private sector. Small business owner Dan Borsch warned the authority to not make Pennsylvania's mistake of trying to toll existing roads to pay for new bridges. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood denied their request this week.

"Pennsylvania spent 10 years trying to get this passed. They spent millions of dollars. They thought they knew better than what the Federal Regulations say, but they don't and you don't," said Borsch.

Chairman Jim Prather says ideally he doesn't want tolls, but says he can't rule it out right now. "It remains to be seen what our tolls will have to play in this project. We don't really know at this point."

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