I-65 toll bridges

The I-65 RiverLink toll bridges in downtown Louisville. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The government-led oversight boards for the RiverLink toll network didn’t follow their own rules when they failed to hold required meetings in 2019.

The two groups are the top decision makers on the bridge toll system connecting Louisville and southern Indiana, tackling duties that include voting on contracts and setting toll rates.

They also approved bylaws mandating that meetings must occur at least annually -- the only chance, when allowed, for RiverLink users to publicly address top officials.

But the Kentucky-Indiana Joint Board, which provides “long-term oversight and management responsibility,” and the rate-setting Tolling Body cancelled their early December meetings and didn’t reschedule before the end of the year.

Future meeting dates haven’t been announced. Naitore Djigbenou, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said in an email that “no new meetings have been scheduled during this time of transition for the new administration in Kentucky.”

Two of new Gov. Andy Beshear’s cabinet appointments -- Finance Secretary Holly McCoy-Johnson and Transportation Secretary Jim Gray – will serve on the boards. The Beshear administration began work on December 10, a week after the meetings were scrapped.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Manning noted that the boards have convened at least once per year since they began meeting in 2013.

And both he and Djigbenou emphasized that the meeting requirements were set in the bylaws – the governing rules – but aren’t required by law.

Emails obtained under Kentucky’s open records law show that Greg Thomas, Kentucky’s transportation secretary in the Matt Bevin administration, wanted to cancel the meetings because he wasn’t comfortable with the language of resolutions on the agenda.

The content of those resolutions has not been made public, but those on the agenda included changes to the states’ agreement with Kapsch TrafficCom, RiverLink’s operator.

The joint board now includes Gray and McCoy-Johnson as Kentucky’s representatives, joining Indiana Public Finance Director Dan Huge and Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness. Those four also serve on the tolling body along with Charles Buddeke of Kentucky and Patrick Price of Indiana.

The joint board changed its bylaws during the first year of tolls in late 2017 after WDRB News reported that it had failed to meet every three months as required. At the time, a spokeswoman defended the move because there were no “action items” to vote on.

Related:

Kentucky-Indiana oversight board fails to hold meetings after RiverLink tolls begin

A decade of bridges, tolls and lessons learned

Federal lawsuit seeks class action over RiverLink toll bills

RiverLink analysis details ‘high risk’ concerns with bridge tolls

Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825, mgreen@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.