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Bridge Realities You Just Won’t Read In Louisville

May 14th, 2012 by jake · 4 Comments

What’s that? The mainstream media in Louisville would never run a story like this from the News & Tribune?

Here you go:

“After careful review of the recently released economic impact study on the Ohio River Bridges Project, I am still primarily concerned with the burden to Indiana taxpayers and worry that the proposed tolls will put undue financial strain on the people the project is designed to help,” said Indiana Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville, in a statement released last week. “It is important to look at every option available to lessen the financial burden southeast Indiana residents will face, either with some type of individual tax credit or one for employers who are willing to pay employee tolls.”

-SNIP-

“I would hope that the Ohio River Bridge’s Authority … perhaps they would look at this again,” he said. “I believe the financing plan … is something that can continue to be re-evaluated.”

And this:

Both the Clarksville Town Council and the Jeffersonville City Council took their opposition a step further calling for bridge planners to construct the east-end bridge first. Each council passed a resolution at their respective meetings Monday night urging the Federal Highway Administration to expedite the building of the east-end bridge and deny tolling of the Interstate 65 downtown corridor of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

The resolutions called for “delaying construction of the downtown portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project until a means of constructing the downtown bridge without the need for tolls on Interstate 65, the Clark Memorial Bridge, Sherman Minton Bridge, the Interstate-64, I-65 and I-71 connectors and ‘Spaghetti Junction’ presents itself.”

Both resolutions also cited the negative impacts of constructing and tolling the I-65 corridor would have on the Southern Indiana side of the Ohio River detailed in the economic impact study commissioned by the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana Finance Authority.

Especially this:

“FHWA has concluded that the modified selected alternative is likely to cause a disproportionately high and adverse effect on minority and low-income populations,” according to the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. “Although the impacts would not be ‘predominantly borne’ by environmental justice populations, the impact would be appreciably more severe or greater in magnitude for these populations.”

Environmental justice populations were defined as low-income households, low-income neighborhoods and minority populations.

According to an Ohio River bridges users study, 36 percent of low-income populations and 57 percent of minority populations cross the Ohio River by car as heavy users, which includes every day or several times per week.

“It is an area of great concern,” said Jeffersonville NAACP President Antia Fields. “There are people that we know will not be able to afford those tolls no matter what they are.”

And this:

“Because members of the minority community appear to use the Ohio River bridges with greater frequency than non-minorities, it is necessary to determine whether the institution of tolling on the new Ohio River bridges will cause a disproportionately high and adverse effect on members of the minority community,” according to the final impact statement.

The annual cost of the tolls for an individual — based on a $2 round trip — would total $480 annually, according to the final impact statement. Based on the 2010 poverty threshold — for someone making less than $11,139 — paying for the tolls would cost them 4 percent of their annual income.

Also this:

To help mitigate the impact on low-income and minority populations, transportation planners from Indiana and Kentucky, as well as from the Federal Highway Administration, will look to implement enhanced bus service through the Transit Authority of River City that includes funding for new vehicles, additional park-and-ride facilities and extended routes and stops. In addition to enhanced bus service, the states will develop a process for adopting an overall tolling policy that will be sensitive and responsive to the environmental justice populations, according to the final impact statement.

Which must be why TARC is this one, right?

Your paper of record – which touts itself as the source for all the “news” – could never do a story like this without having its rear spanked by its daddy.

Tags: Indiana · Newspaper · Ohio River Bridges · Poverty

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Stunoland // May 15, 2012 at 12:49 am

    There is a reason no one from the government, media, or citizenry respond to the facts presented. You cannot argue with math. For the sake of our community I hope that Wilbur-Smith, now CDSmith, is using realistic assumptions in their investment grade statistical regression analysis. This is serious stuff, we are about to borrow over $700 million dollars. No one should blindly trust elected officials. Both the 2007 and 2010 Wilbur-Smith tolling studies used absurd assumptions. These are the only estimates of toll revenue released to the public. The poor quality of ORBP work is especially worrying considering the recent performance of Wilbur-Smith Associates. This company’s work has contributed to the bankruptcy of multiple toll roads. Rates have been raised in many areas and additional points have been tolled. The numbers released to the public indicate a tolled Sherman-bridge and possibly Spaghetti Junction. To insure a favorable interest rate the Beshear/Daniels Memorandum of Understanding specifically allows for tolling of the existing Sherman-Minton bridge, by name, as well as any other point deemed necessary. CDSmith must release the investment grade tolling study for the public to have any confidence that our public officials are acting in a fiscally responsible manner.

  • 2 Stunoland // May 15, 2012 at 12:49 am

    The vast majority of public comments received supported prioritizing the east end bridge over a tolled 2 bridges project. A consistent majority of those attending bridges meetings were opposed to the 2 bridges project. The only 2 scientific polls ever conducted on this issue indicated that the majority of affected citizens do no support tolling the kennedy to bridge to enable an additional downtown bridge.

  • 3 Stunoland // May 15, 2012 at 12:50 am

    The Value Of Time assumption in the 2010 final preliminary tolling study was 66% higher than the VOT in a 2009 W-S tolling study for the Washington D.C. metro area (median income $72,800). The value of time assumption equates to the number of diversions (non-tolled river crossings). Some mistakes defy common sense: the ORBP tolling studies assume the same amount of total bridge crossings under a toll-free scenario as in a $3 tolling scenario. Even more damning is the recent Reston, VA citizens report that evaluated Wilbur-Smith’s performance. This group favored a project but wanted an evaluation of Wilbur-Smith’s statistical work. The work for the Reston, was pathetic and 12 recent Wilbur-Smith’s tolling studies were optimistic by a collective 127%. This company has now retired their brand to become CDSmith through buyout.

  • 4 Stunoland // May 15, 2012 at 1:04 am

    The Memorandum of understanding also creates a Debt Service Reserve Fund that allows gov’t to cover toll shortfalls with a guaranteed 5% yearly return on investment. This agreement allows those responsible to delay the financial judgement day.

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