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July 23, 2013

First of two open houses held on tolling

CLARKSVILLE —

Residents again came out to voice their opinions at a meeting to collect public comments on the Ohio River Bridges Project, but few believe anything will change.

More than 120 people attended the public open house held to gather comments on the economic impacts of tolling for the bridges project on low-income and minority users. 

“I don’t anticipate that this means anything, ultimately,” said Georgetown resident Karen Bassett, who offered her input Monday. “Yes, throughout their entire process they’ve had their meetings and invited comment, but I just get the sense on both sides of the river the decision was made and it doesn’t really ... matter what we say.”

The tentative plan for tolling will place electronic tolls on both Interstate 65 bridges — a new northbound bridge being constructed and the existing Kennedy Bridge which will become a southbound-only bridge — and the east-end bridge. The Interstate 64 Sherman Minton Bridge and the Clark Memorial Bridge will remain untolled. Rates for the tolls on the bridges have not been finalized, but Indiana and Kentucky have been operating off of a model that would set tolling figures at $1 each way for frequent commuters; $2 per crossing for other passenger vehicles; $5 each way for panel or box trucks; and $10 per crossing for semi-trucks.

Despite the purpose for the meeting, the bulk of the comments offered up by local residents continue to be centered around concerns that have been brought up since tolling was announced as potentially being part of the project.

“It means less discretionary income,” Bassett said of tolls on the bridges. “Every single dollar they take out of our pocket on that toll bridge is going to be a dollar not spent locally. And I don’t see what they’re doing to mitigate the impact to Southern Indiana business.”

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