by Legate Damar
Northern Kentucky Commuters will Pay Most of the Tolls
The emphasis of the debate on the use of tolls to fund a new Brent Spence bridge has centered on the cost to NKY commuters. It is estimated by Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) that 63-65% of the traffic that crosses the current Brent Spence bridge are commuters from NKY going to work over in Cincinnati. Therefore the preponderance of the cost for a new Brent Spence bridge will fall on the backs of NKY commuters.
The use of tolls requires the Kentucky General Assembly passing the legislation that allows public-private partnerships (P3). The legislation allowing P3’s did not pass due to Governor Beshear’s veto in the 2014 legislative session. It seems he didn’t approve of Rep. Arnold Simpson’s (D-Covington) amendment that disallowed the use of P3’s for funding a new Brent Spence bridge (The Big Business Agenda for Tolling, 2014). Since the failure of the P3 legislation to pass there has been little discussion as to setting specific toll rates. Therefore speculation exists as to what cost a NKY commuter or a trucking firm would incur to cross a new Brent Spence bridge going to and coming from Cincinnati to work every day.
Cost of Tolls for a Commuter?
The best estimates for the initial toll rates for a new Brent Spence bridge can be obtained from a Kentucky Highway report’s recommendations for the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville. The Ohio River Bridges Project involves building a new bridge between Prospect, Ky., and Utica, Ind., the Interstate 65 Kennedy Bridge and a new downtown span next to it. The recommended toll rates are illustrated below:
- Drivers can open prepaid accounts to get the best fare. The account is charged either by reading the transponder from overhead sensors or by snapping a picture of the license plate.
- Drivers without prepaid accounts pay the highest tolls. Their license plates are photographed and bills are sent to their address.
- $1 for passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs that make frequent trips across the river and pay with a transponder.
- $2 for passenger cars with a transponder that cross fewer than 20 times in a month. Other passenger cars would pay $3 if they have an account, but no transponder. Those with no account would pay $4 for each crossing (Tolls set for Ohio River Bridges Project, 2013).
by Legate Damar
The Big Business Propaganda Campaign for Tolls
The elites in NKY along with the corporate special interest through the Build Our New Bridge Now Coalition is starting an education campaign to persuade the residents of NKY that (a) a new Brent Spence Bridge is necessary, and (b) tolls are the only way to fund the project (The Big Business Agenda for Tolling, 2014). They seem to feel the residents of NKY are a bunch of backward philistines that aren’t progressive enough to recognize the need for a new bridge, or are willing to concede that tolling is the only financing mechanism available to us. If we are foolish enough to believe them, 63%-65% of NKY commuters who cross the Brent Spence Bridge to work in Cincinnati will end up paying for it.
Their “education” campaign is supposedly designed to clear up any misinformation out there about the project. I just want to reassure my readers that you won’t read any misinformation from this author because I conduct something adults call research, and I cite my sources. Unfortunately for us, I have found through my research that the Enquirer is spoon fed by our locally elected officials, elites, and big businesses in order to forward various agendas. Tom Wurtz amusingly refers to them as the political country club, but I don't see the humor. They represent a dark underside to NKY and they set the agenda for us.
One question that keeps popping up is how much the toll rates will be once the use of tolls is established as a funding mechanism for the new bridge. The best estimates for the toll rate will probably come from the proposed rates for the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville.
by Legate Damar
The Brent Spence Bridge Problem
The elites and big business special interests in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are executing a propaganda campaign to convince the residents of NKY for the need to utilize tolling to fund a new Brent Spence Bridge. In spite of the failure to pass the public-private partnership legislation in the 2014 legislative session, tolling proponents remain undeterred.
The 50-year-old, double-decked Brent Spence carries Interstates 71 and 75 traffic. It is categorized as functionally obsolete because of its narrow lanes, lack of emergency shoulders and limited visibility. The bridge also carries double the amount of traffic it was originally intended for, although it is structurally sound, officials say (Kasich: Ohio’s done its part on Brent Spence Bridge, 2014).
According to the Enquirer replacing the 51-year-old Brent Spence Bridge is considered critical to the region’s future. The structure is outdated, unsafe and frequently congested. But it’s also the heart of our region’s transportation system, carrying not only local commuters but billions in interstate commerce every year. If the bridge is not replaced, business leaders fear our region’s economy will suffer in lost jobs and missed opportunities for new ones (Bridge taking toll on NKY image, 2014).
by Legate Damar
How the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport Ended Up in Kentucky
During the run-up to World War II, the federal government began building new airports across the nation. Cincinnati was on their radar screen, according to the 1997 book “Creating a World Class Airport” by former Cincinnati Post reporter Richard L. Rawe, but political leaders were short-sighted. Cincinnati politicians didn’t want to abandon the fog-prone Lunken Airfield, but they also couldn’t agree upon a location for a new airport north of the Ohio River. As a result, Hamilton County voters rejected a bond issue that would have financed the project.
A U.S. representative from Newport named Brent Spence spotted an opportunity. He wrote a headline-grabbing newspaper column, “Kentucky Could Get Cincinnati Airport,” and set into motion events that would reshape the face of Northern Kentucky for decades to come.
Business, political and newspaper leaders in Kenton County, then the political and financial epicenter of Northern Kentucky, rallied behind Spence’s idea. The effort was led by the Covington-Kenton County Industrial Association, the Chamber of Commerce of its day (Kenton County keeps tight grip on CVG, 2013).
Kenton County Finances the Construction of the Airport
Boone County didn’t have any money, so the Kenton County Fiscal Court purchased the land in Boone County because it was more suitable for an airport than any of the land in Kenton County. Land was flat and cheap, but Boone County was still largely rural, undeveloped and decidedly lacking in political muscle. County leaders agreed to the airport, but only if Kenton County paid for the 950-acre site and took on the legal and political risk.
The project moved forward, with the backing of Frankfort. The state legislature created the airport board, and in 1943 Kenton County appointed the first members: seven business leaders from the Covington-Kenton County Industrial Association. They oversaw construction and signed 20-year leases with CVG’s first carriers – Delta, American and TWA.
Today, Kenton County remains the political power behind CVG: its name is on the dotted line when it comes to dealings with the federal government, such as bonds and grants, and its judge-executive appoints 13 of the 18 board members. The county doesn’t receive a dime in revenue. Frankfort and Boone County benefit from the payroll taxes, and the airport keeps the profits from concessions, landing fees and parking (Kenton County keeps tight grip on CVG, 2013).
by Legate Damar
Kenton County Clerk Gabrielle Summe was responsible for failing to certify the petition which would have put the tax that funds the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC) on the ballot for a vote. If you signed this petition, you were denied this opportunity. The Libertarians are running candidate and former veteran Chris Robinson for Kenton County Clerk this fall.
Chris Robinson was born in Kenton County at St. Elizabeth North in 1972. He served in the Navy for 11 years, and is an Iraq War and Bosnia War veteran.
He has completed advanced public affairs training as part of his military career, and has a bachelor's degree in communications.
Chris works in Covington at the IRS, and is active in his neighborhood association.
He is committed to make Kenton County a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
His pledge to voters:
Customer Service - As your County Clerk I will answer to you, the public - not the bureaucracy.
Efficiency - I will audit current spending to see that not one dollar is wasted.
Integrity - I will ensure the office will be run without bias, and will put citizens of Kenton County first.
Most importantly he will certify the petition to put the tax that funds the NKAPC on the ballot!
Check out Chris's campaign website at: www.chris4clerk.com