Proposed bills could provide southern Indiana drivers relief from bridge tolls

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A subcontractor with the RiverLink toll system has paid an Indiana man hundreds of dollars after he won a legal judgment that stemmed from an errant toll bill.

William Dickey of Salem, Ind., received $614.36 this week from Municipal Services Bureau, according to Washington Superior Court and the Indiana Department of Transportation. The company manages the customer and billing services for the Louisville-area toll network from its Austin, Texas offices.

Dickey filed a small claims lawsuit last year after RiverLink representatives sent a collections notice for an unpaid 2017 Ohio River crossing that was charged to his late wife, who died before the toll bridges were built. He had refused to pay the bill and subsequent late fees.

“It was a long process,” Dickey said in a phone interview. “But when you persevere things do come out.”

Dickey’s lawsuit was filed against RiverLink, the brand name of the all-electronic toll network on three bridges between Louisville and Indiana and overseen by Kentucky and Indiana state governments. Drivers are billed based on their license plates or through accounts linked to in-car transponders.

Dickey told WDRB News this month that he spent hours on the phone with RiverLink and Budget Truck Rental representatives trying to understand how Patricia Dickey, who died of cancer in 2013, was billed $7 for crossing the Interstate 65 Lincoln Bridge in a rented truck. He said he never received an explanation.

But Scott Manning, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, explained in an email this week that a worker reviewing license plate photos for Municipal Services Bureau was able to read the plate number of the truck correctly, but the plate’s state wasn’t visible.

Instead of entering the license plate number shown in the photo, the worker typed in an internal Budget fleet number listed on the truck, Manning said. Then, in another mistake, the reviewer “associated the vehicle to Indiana even there is not a visible identifier in the photo to associate the vehicle with Indiana,” he said.

As a result, the computer system linked the fleet number and Indiana plate with Dickey’s late wife.

“We apologize for the inconvenience to Mr. Dickey,” Manning said, and noted that a formal letter of apology will be sent on behalf of RiverLink.

The Ohio River Bridges Project’s four-member “joint board” hired Austrian-based Kapsch TrafficCom to operate RiverLink. The board includes Kentucky Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas and Kentucky Finance and Administration Secretary William Landrum; and Indiana Public Finance Director Dan Huge and Tony McClellan of the Indiana Department of Transportation. 

The board had not been made aware of the lawsuit until recently, Manning said. The judgment against RiverLink came after no one associated with the project responded to court filings in Salem, and a judge ruled in Dickey's favor.

A Kapsch spokesman did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Speaking for Indiana, Manning said the state had urged Kapsch to work toward a “solution” with its subcontractor. No toll revenue was used to pay the court costs, he added.

 Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825, mgreen@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.

Digital Reporter

Marcus Green joined WDRB News in 2013 after 12 years as a staff writer at the Louisville Courier-Journal. He reports on transportation and local and state government.