Commuter data hints at bridge tolls' uneven impact on Southern Indiana
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – About three times as many residents of Clark County, Ind., travel to Louisville to work than do people commuting in the opposite direction, new data shows.
In all, about 18,507 workers from Clark County make the trip across the Ohio River each week, while roughly 6,710 residents of Jefferson County head north to jobs in Jeffersonville, Clarksville and other areas.
Those estimates, released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau, suggest that bridge tolls will have a disproportionate effect on Southern Indiana residents. Starting next year, drivers will have to pay to use three spans between the counties – two Interstate 65 crossings and a new bridge eight miles upriver.
The Census figures are based on surveys of local residents between 2009 and 2013. They align with an earlier study prepared for the Ogle Foundation that assumed that Clark and Scott counties will be the “primary source” of toll revenue from commuters.
That study from 2012 estimated that based on a $1 toll – the cheapest cost for crossing the bridges – Indiana commuters would pay $8.6 million in tolls each year, compared with $3.6 million from Kentucky drivers.
The new data “validates our own information,” said Kent Lanum, the Jeffersonville foundation’s president and CEO. “Still you have a segment that’s going to be paying a much larger proportion of their income towards going to work. It’s got to have some impact.”
Lanum said he’s heard from businesses interested in opening offices on both sides of the river in order to cut down on toll costs.
Beyond the potential impact of tolls, the Census data also shows that 91 percent of Jefferson County residents who commute to work – or about 314,000 people -- travel within the county to their jobs.
Clark County businesses had the highest number of Jefferson County workers in the region, followed by Bullitt (4,765), Oldham (3,074), Floyd (2,932), Hardin (2,201) and Shelby (1,972).
Across the U.S., the Census Bureau found that roughly 76 percent of commuted to work by driving alone in 2013, while about 9 percent rode in carpools. Slightly more than 5 percent took public transportation.
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