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.”
“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.”
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.
“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.”
“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.
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.