First this from WFPL:

A resolution opposing tolls on existing bridges has garnered the support of more than half of the Louisville Metro Council.

The legislation asserts the council’s position in the Ohio River Bridges Project. It asks that the bi-state bridges authority not toll existing infrastructure to finance two new bridges over the Ohio River and a reworked Spaghetti Junction.

Sponsor Tina Ward-Pugh says the fact that existing bridges may be tolled is the consequence of the bridges authority being formed. Ward-Pugh opposed creating the panel, then unsuccessfully tried to have a council member appointed to it.

“We really have no authority now to do anything about it other than to say, ‘We represent the people. We were elected by those people. The people have concerns about the options you’re throwing out there and if we have the opportunity, we’re going to direct you in a way that’s going to be more productive,” she says.

The resolution also asks the authority to build the project in phases. The authority recently said it cannot and will not do that. A financing plan for the bridges project is due by the end of the year.

The resolution will be given first reading in the council next week, and could be passed two weeks after that. The New Albany city council passed a similar resolution last month.

Republican councilman and mayoral candidate Hal Heiner is among the at least 17 co-sponsors on the resolution. Democratic mayoral candidate Greg Fischer‘s campaign spokesperson said, “Greg has repeatedly said he opposes tolls.” I later asked if Fischer supports building the project in phases, but I haven’t heard a response. (This is the Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend. I’ll post whatever I hear back.)

Here is the text of the resolution:

A RESOLUTION IN OPPOSITION TO TOLLS ON THE KENNEDY, CLARK MEMORIAL, AND SHERMAN MINTON BRIDGES AND/OR THE INTERSTATE CONNECTORS (I-64, I-65, AND I-71) A/K/A “SPAGHETTI JUNCTION,” AND SUPPORTING MORE CROSS – RIVER CONNECTIONS.


Sponsored By: Council Members Tina Ward-Pugh, Jim King, Tom Owen,
Hal Heiner, Vicki Welch, Brent Ackerson, Deonte Hollowell, Barbara Shanklin,
Rick Blackwell, Marianne Butler, Bob Henderson, Robin Engel, Stuart Benson, Kenneth C. Fleming, Mary Woolridge, Kelly Downard, Cheri Bryant Hamilton


WHEREAS, the issues surrounding the Ohio River Bridges Project (ORBP) have a real and direct impact on the citizens, economy and cultural well-being of our community; and

WHEREAS, a financing plan that could result in the imposition of tolls on new and existing Ohio River bridges and/ or tolls on the Interstate connectors (I-64, I-65, and I-71) a/k/a “Spaghetti Junction” is currently under consideration, and has raised valid concerns from the citizens of this community; and

WHEREAS, the Ohio River should serve as the center of unity and commerce, not as a barrier dividing the metropolitan area; and

WHEREAS, the three bridges (Sherman Minton, Clark Memorial and Kennedy) connecting Kentucky and Indiana are essential links in the growth and economic development of the community; and

WHEREAS, the ORBP is essential to interstate commerce in the Eastern United States and should include sufficient Federal funding to avoid shifting the burden of its cost to local daily commuters; and

WHEREAS, it is fundamentally wrong to begin tolling the existing transportation infrastructure currently used by hard-working citizens whose livelihood depends on their daily commute to their jobs in Kentucky and Indiana; and

WHEREAS, the imposition of tolls on existing transportation infrastructure may threaten businesses and working families of this community.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL OF THE LOUISVILLE/JEFFERSON COUNTY METRO GOVERNMENT (THE COUNCIL) AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION I: The Louisville Metro Council, by this Resolution, states that it is opposed to tolls on the Kennedy Bridge, Clark Memorial Bridge, Sherman Minton Bridge and/or “Spaghetti Junction,” while still supporting more cross – river connections; and further states that the best policy for the economic well-being of the region is for the ORBP to be built without tolls on existing facilities and in affordable phases commencing with the connection of I-265 between Jefferson County, Kentucky and Clark County, Indiana..

SECTION II: Notwithstanding the Council’s belief that existing transportation
infrastructure should not be tolled to pay the cost of construction of the ORBP, it is
recognized that circumstances related to the orientation of the new downtown bridge
relative to the existing downtown Kennedy Bridge, e.g., the functional pairing of the two
bridges, could require the tolling of the existing Kennedy Bridge to provide appropriate
parity between the use of the two bridges. In that case, the Council believes any tolls
applied to the Kennedy Bridge should only be implemented when that phase is built and
then only in an amount necessary to recover the cost of the new downtown bridge, less
available federal funding.

SECTION III: This Resolution shall take effect upon its passage and approval.

Here is Say No To Bridge Tolls (which worked with council members on the resolution) co-founder Shawn Reilly‘s reaction:

“I have worked long and hard making this resolution against tolls a reality.  I am truly proud of our Metro Council members who have stood up and said with one unifying voice that they are against tolls to fund this project. At a time when Democrats and Republican are as divided as ever it is good to see them come together for the common good of this community.  It is clear by their action today that they support building this project in affordable phases not financed by tolls. The issue of jobs creation is important and I expect this resolution to stop the job killing tolls the unelected bridges authority wishes to impose on this community because tolls kill job growth”

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