Louisville-area toll bridge system to be called RiverLink
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The tolling network set to start next year on three Ohio River bridges now has a name: RiverLink.
Kentucky and Indiana transportation officials revealed the logo and name at an invitation-only event for community and business leaders in downtown Louisville on Tuesday, kicking off a public relations push for a toll system that won’t use toll booths.
The campaign, which Louisville advertising agency New West is heading under a $1.7 million contract with the states, will include open houses, blanketing next year’s Thunder Over Louisville and Kentucky Derby Festival events, community meetings and multimedia advertising.
A website that will be the main source of tolling information, www.RiverLink.com, is to be online by mid-2016.
The goal: Let drivers know how to create toll accounts and get transponders for their windshields. And remember that there won’t be any toll booths.
“We will continue to press that message home and as part of the public information campaign will emphasize to folks that this is a convenient all-electronic tolling system and stopping is not a part of that,” David Talley, innovative finance manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, told reporters.
Besides unveiling the RiverLink name and logo and giving an overview of the public relations plan, there was very little new information from Tuesday’s meeting.
The states still haven’t settled on the finer points of tolling – such as which emergency vehicles will be exempt from tolls and the rates for drivers who frequently cross the river.
Talley and Jim Stark, the Indiana Department of Transportation’s deputy commissioner of innovative project delivery, said they expect those rules to be finalized in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, state officials say they're negotiating contracts for retail locations where drivers can pick up transponders, which will be available next May.
Cameras and antennae near the bridges will record license plates or scan transponders on vehicles' windshields. Drivers without toll accounts – linked to a transponder or a license plate – will be billed by mail.
Two types of windshield transponders will be available. A free sticker-like device will work on the Louisville-area bridges, while a heavier transponder will cost $15 and can be used in states also in the E-ZPass network.
The proposed toll rates for vehicles with a transponder are: $1 for a “frequent” driver; $2 for a passenger car; $5 for a medium truck; and $10 for a heavy truck.
The rates for vehicles with a registered license plate account are: $3 for a passenger car; $6 for a medium truck; and $11 for a heavy truck.
And the rates for vehicles without any of those accounts: $4 for a passenger car; $7 for a medium truck; and $12 for a heavy truck.
TARC won’t be charged tolls to cross the river.
As drivers look to avoid tolls, traffic is expected to increase on the Sherman Minton Bridge, which carries Interstate 64 between New Albany, Ind., and Louisville, and the Clark Memorial Bridge downtown, according to predictions. In all, those aging spans will see a 125 percent spike in truck traffic, estimates show.
As a result, civic leaders on both sides of the river have backed keeping trucks off the Clark Memorial.
Talley said the states continue to pursue agreements that would make it easier to collect from out-of-state drivers who refuse to pay toll bills. Kentucky and Indiana have laws in place allowing state governments to withhold the annual registration of vehicles with violations until the fees are paid.
And he said the E-ZPass executive committee, which denied Kentucky’s membership into the toll network last month, will meet Thursday to discuss the state’s application.
“We anticipate that a reworked membership resolution will be entertained at that time, and we are hopeful and confident that it will be approved,” he said.
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