LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Buoyed by increased traffic on the Kennedy Bridge, crossings on the RiverLink network of toll bridges rose slightly during the second full week of tolling, according to figures released Monday.

About 400,000 vehicles used the three pay-to-cross bridges – the Interstate 65 Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln spans, and the upriver Lewis and Clark Bridge – between January 9 and January 13, the data show. That compares with 395,830 during the same period the previous week, which included a federal holiday and one day of inclement weather.

Overall, the bridges saw a 1 percent increase in traffic.

The average daily traffic on the three toll bridges was 79,952. Officials have projected 110,000 crossings each day on the bridges, which rely on tolls of $2 to $12 per crossings to pay off the construction bonds for the Ohio River Bridges Project.  

“Is that as high as we expect? No, that’s not where we’re going to land,” said Mindy Peterson, a RiverLink spokeswoman. “But following a major, major construction project, whole new travel options – it’s going to take time.”

She said it may take some drivers months to settle into new traffic patterns and noted that, for example, the new spans are not yet included on some mapping services.

It’s not yet known how the two Ohio River crossings without tolls – the Clark Memorial and Sherman Minton bridges – have been affected by RiverLink. Peterson said she hasn’t seen any data showing traffic levels on those spans, which were projected to see more vehicles as drivers look to avoid tolls.

Last week’s increase in RiverLink traffic could have been lower when considering that the first full week of tolls between January 2 and January 6 included the New Year’s Day observed holiday and winter weather that closed some businesses and schools.

Peterson acknowledged that traffic has been “flat,” but she said it’s not a concern. Besides new traffic patterns and the start of tolls, she said some drivers have yet to use the new spans or are intimidated by the all-electronic tolling.

“These are the same people that in the coming weeks and months are going to talk to friends, family, neighbors who say, ‘Boy, my commute is faster. It’s shorter. I’m saving a lot of time,’” she said.

The data provided by RiverLink – the system owned by Kentucky and Indiana – reveal that traffic declined by 5.3 percent on the Lewis and Clark and by 3.3 percent on the Lincoln last week. It increased by 9 percent on the Kennedy, which carries southbound I-65.

In all, 52.5 percent of vehicles that used the RiverLink network last week had a transponder, compared with 45 percent the week before.

“That’s a great direction to have that moving in and that’s another number that we expect to grow as we get more transponders in the hands of drivers, as drivers open more RiverLink accounts, as more people honestly get them up and mounted,” Peterson said.

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