Drivers turn to state attorneys general for help with RiverLink complaints

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Traffic has increased on Louisville-area toll bridges after an initial decline and is on pace to generate enough revenue to meet projections for the first half of 2017, according to figures released Monday.

The data is the first update of the RiverLink system since shortly after tolling began in January. It shows there were almost 7 million crossings on the Lewis and Clark, Kennedy, Lincoln and bridges through March.

RiverLink operator Kapsch TrafficCom has collected $8.6 million from drivers, and $6.8 million more is expected from vehicles that used the bridges with E-ZPass transponders linked to toll systems elsewhere, said Mindy Peterson, a RiverLink spokeswoman.

She said those figures for the first three months, combined with invoices mailed to drivers without RiverLink accounts, should push revenues above a consultant’s projection of $32.9 million for the first six months of 2017.

“We are meeting expectations,” Peterson said. “We are where we expected to be at this point, and both states are meeting financial obligations for this project.”

But traffic will need to increase -- and, in some cases, climb sharply – to meet earlier projections.

By 2018, more than 110,000 vehicles are expected to use the three bridges each day, according to a 2013 study by Steer Davies Gleave, the Boston consultant that conducted a traffic and revenue study for Kentucky before it sold bonds for its share of the bridges project.

Peterson affirmed that figure on Monday while speaking to reporters.

A WDRB News analysis of the new RiverLink data shows that the average daily traffic on the toll bridges was 83,213 in March.

Slightly less than 15,000 vehicles used the Lewis and Clark Bridge last month, up from 13,305 in January. Steer Davies Gleave predicted in 2013 that 36,007 cars and trucks would cross that span every day by 2018.

Closer to downtown Louisville, 68,229 vehicles crossed the Interstate 65 Kennedy and Lincoln bridges during March, up from 58,925 in January. Projections call for daily traffic of 74,500 on the I-65 bridges by next year.

The data released Monday also indicates that more people are opening RiverLink accounts, giving them the ability to pay the lowest toll rate. When tolls started at the end of December, there were 78,500 accounts; by the end of March, 107,550 accounts had been created.

Nearly 275,000 transponders had been issued by the end of March, a 60 percent increase since the start of tolling. Local transponders, which work on the three bridges between Louisville and Clark County, Ind., made up 85 percent of the devices.

A regional traffic study that also will gauge whether more vehicles are using the Clark Memorial and Sherman Minton bridges is expected to be done late this year, Peterson said. There are no current figures showing traffic levels on those spans – the only toll-free ones between Louisville and Southern Indiana.

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