BRADENTON, Fla. Kentucky and Indiana officials at a special meeting Sept. 11 set the base toll rates that drivers will pay on the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project.
The two states, which are splitting the cost of the project, will share the toll revenue equally to help meet their financial obligations.
The bi-state panel set the rates as recommended in an investment-grade study commissioned by the Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority, which will issue toll revenue bonds later this year as part of the completion financing of the state’s $1.3 billion cost.
The approval of the toll rates was also necessary for the state to request a low-interest federal loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
Indiana financed its project through a public-private partnership with WVB East End Partners, which will be repaid with toll revenues and other sources.
Drivers will begin paying tolls in 2017 when the work on new and existing bridges is expected to be done. Frequent commuters with transponders will pay $1 and cars that make less frequent trips will pay $2. Box and panel trucks will pay $5, and tractor trailers will pay $10. The criteria for frequent commuters still must be determined.
Motorists who don’t use transponders will be tracked via photos of their license plates, and billed at higher rates. All toll rates will go up annually by 2.5% or the rate of inflation based on the Consumer Price Index, whichever is greater.
The Ohio River Bridges project involves building two new bridges, rehabilitating the existing Interstate 65 Kennedy Memorial Bridge, and reconstructing the downtown Louisville interchange where I-65, I-64, and I-71 converge.
Kentucky is building the downtown crossing, which includes rehabilitating the Kennedy Bridge and building a new adjacent bridge. Indiana is building the East End Crossing, which includes a new bridge upriver from Louisville.