Traffic dips -- then climbs -- on Ohio River toll bridges during spring months
About 87,980 vehicles used the bridges each day in June, up more than 3 percent from May. Projections call for average daily traffic of more than 110,000 by next year.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Average daily traffic on the Ohio River toll bridges declined slightly in May before rising in June, according to figures released Tuesday.
On a typical day last month, 87,980 drivers used the Interstate 65 Lincoln and Kennedy bridges between Louisville and Jeffersonville, Ind., and the Lewis and Clark Bridge some eight miles upriver. That was a 3 percent increase from the previous month.
Projections call for more than 110,000 vehicles to cross the toll spans during weekdays by the end of next year. (There were 92,572 weekdays crossings, on average, from April through June, the data show.)
But RiverLink spokeswoman Mindy Peterson said preliminary figures suggest that toll revenue collections are exceeding targets set for the first six months of tolls.
“We are beating the revenue expectations,” she said. “That money can only be used for financial obligations of the project and then for operations and maintenance of the bridges and the roadways and the system.”
Traffic has grown steadily on the eastern span, with about 18,500 vehicles using it on average in June. Consultants have predicted that more than double that amount – about 36,000 – will use the bridge by late 2018.
“We still expect growth in those numbers. It’s probably going to take about four years for the Lewis and Clark to reach what we call a steady state of traffic because it is brand new,” Peterson said.
The data is the second snapshot of RiverLink, the bridge network overseen by Indiana and Kentucky state governments and operated by Kapsch TrafficCom of Austria. Since late December, drivers have been charged $2 to $12 to cross the bridges.
The report, released by a RiverLink public relations consultant, shows that nearly $35 million in toll revenue had been collected through June – higher than earlier estimates of roughly $33 million. Officials expect to take in $3.3 million more from drivers with E-ZPass systems from other states.
The states evenly share the proceeds from tolls.
Peterson said drivers also continue to open RiverLink accounts, which offer the lowest toll rates. There are now 125,000 accounts and more than 275,000 transponders have been requested, according to the data.
At the same time, there was only a slight increase in the share of river crossings by drivers with transponders – 59 percent during weekdays from April through June, up from 56 during January to March.
Besides the traffic and revenue figures, the data indicates a RiverLink call center based in Texas also has reduced wait times. Customer service representatives answered calls in less than one minute on average in June, down from 11 minutes in May.
“That is what customers should expect when they’re calling RiverLink, so significant improvements made on that front,” Peterson said. “We’ve seen those call times trending downward the whole time and we’re finally getting to a level that’s much closer to where we need to be and what customers should expect.”