The Bi-State Bridges Authority is putting together a financing plan for two new bridges and a reworked Spaghetti Junction. Tolls could be used to pay for part of the project, and at the authority’s meeting Thursday, they were presented with a few tolling scenarios. This PDF is the Wilbur-Smith tolling study. It outlines how tolls between fifty cents and three dollars on any combination of old bridges, new bridges and Spaghetti Junction will affect traffic.

As you can see, higher tolls will make some drivers change their plans and take less expensive routes. When he presented this data, Tim Sorenson from Wilbur-Smith pointed out that $3 was not so high that projected revenues actually decreased. If you look extrapolate what’s shown on the the graph on page 14 of the presentation, the lines keep going up. Sorenson says if lines were drawn representing tolls higher than $3, they would not follow the same course. In other words, the higher tolls wouldn’t be cost-effective.

And the authority hasn’t decided how high the tolls need to be, if they’re needed at all. They hope to have a financing plan completed by December. Authority co-chair Kerry Stemler says the plan will outline how to pay for two new bridges and a reworked Spaghetti Junction, despite the fact that a recent CN2 poll showed a majority of likely voters favor an east-end bridge only.

It will be interesting to see, then, how the authority treats an item it added to its next meeting agenda. The authority has decided to discuss the 8664 plan and the multiple-phase bridges project in St. Louis. Stemler says he’s already reviewed those plans, and the authority is looking to “answer questions” by publicly discussing alternatives to the ORBP.

The Say No To Bridge Tolls group suggested splitting up the project into three phases (one for each bridge and one for Spaghetti Junction) and building them separately with the east-end bridge first and the rest following, if necessary.

Update: Republican Mayoral candidate Hal Heiner‘s campaign released this statement about tolls:

I oppose tolling spaghetti junction. Asking our citizens to pay a toll every time they visit and leave our new arena, restaurants, museums or even hospitals is the kind of idea that will hurt jobs and families in Louisville.

We should be working to pull Louisville out of this recession, not adding more of a financial burden on Louisvillians as they travel within our city. If this is the financing option to move forward with this project, I think we should make the responsible decision and break the project into phases, while moving forward with the portion we can afford, the east end bridge. During that time we will work to streamline the remaining phases.

Today I am calling on the Bridges Authority to include in any analysis, the economic impact of tolls on the following Louisville businesses when considering financing options for the bridges project.

Democrat Greg Fischer says

I’m all for creative funding ideas, but that’s the most outlandish thing I’ve ever heard. I won’t support that — and the people of Louisville won’t support that.
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