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Friday, February 14, 2014

UK report suggests tolls to pay for the Brent Spence Bridge project would impact little

A study released this week shows that the use of tolls to fund the Brent Spence Bridge project would have little impact on traffic diversion.
 
The study was conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky and was commissioned by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
 
“Overall, consistent with economic literature, the economic impact of the improved bridge will be positive and the toll, while slightly mitigating that impact, is likely to have only small effects on commuting patterns, trucking and retail and food service industries,” the study concludes.
 
The study found that the net impact of the new bridge and the toll under the Center’s estimated likely scenarios would reduce commuter traffic by less than 2 percent and possibly increase traffic by 1 percent. Critics of tolling the $2.5 billion project argue that tolls would force the diversion of an overwhelming amount of traffic through Covington’s streets as drivers seek alternative routes.
 
Truckers, who would likely pay the highest amount in tolls, would see their traffic reduced by less than 3 percent according to the study.
 
As for locals on either side of the river who cross the bridge for shopping purposes, the study found that while tolls may reduce trips, it is unlikely to have an impact on retail or accommodation and food service in the region.
 
The Center was also asked to analyze the costs of the projects as it relates to the Davis-Bacon Act (prevailing wage) and the study concluded that the costs would be 10-15 percent higher because of it.
 
Recently, Northern Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie said there would not be any federal funding available for the bridge project over the next two years and a plan floated by Gov. Steve Beshear would require toll revenue bonds to pay for the project.
 
The Kentucky General Assembly would have to put legislation in place to allow for tolls to be collected, an unlikely scenario this session.
 
A financing plan developed by the transportation departments in Ohio and Kentucky also would require the use of tolls.
 
“While we continue to research the delivery of this project and advocate on behalf of Northern Kentucky businesses, we are sharing with you an unbiased report,” wrote Debbie Simpson, chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, in an e-mail to its members. “Our goal is to share facts and avoid misinformation. I’d ask you to continue to support us as we work to solve one of our region’s biggest challenges. We must gather all the facts to make a decision in the best interest of our region.”
 
The Chamber of Commerce has not endorsed an alternative funding method in lieu of federal funds, Simpson wrote.
 
From River City News

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