by Legate Damar
Rachel Maddow Slams the Republicans
I was flipping through the channels the other night and saw a picture of the Brent Spence Bridge on MSNBC, so naturally I had to stop and watch the story. Generally I wouldn’t be caught dead watching MSNBC, but apparently Rachel Maddow led her June 24th show calling the Brent Spence Bridge “an unusual corner of American politics.”
She noted the bridge more or less links the territories of two of the most powerful Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and Speaker of the House John Boehner in Ohio (Maddow uses Brent Spence Bridge to slam Republicans, 2014).
Yet the bridge hasn’t been built, Maddow said. The earmarks that lawmakers like McConnell used to bring back are no longer allowed, she said.
“Under the evolving principals of the Republican Party, Republicans are not allowed to do that anymore,” Maddow said. “Unfortunately, that bridge needs building, but without an earmark, no one is sure how that bridge will be paid for (Maddow uses Brent Spence Bridge to slam Republicans, 2014).”
Normally I would have been offended by Maddow’s slam on the Republicans, but now I think even the most devout Republican in Northern Kentucky would have to admit that there is a kernel of truth to her criticisms. Mitch McConnell has done virtually nothing in regard to securing the funding for a new bridge and has pushed back saying it is a “local issue.” He has only recently taken an interest in the bridge funding due to what’s shaping up to be a hotly contested Senate seat in the fall against Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.
by Terry Donoghue
Well, you all have had some time off, hopefully have collected your thoughts, it’s time to get together and put a plan together for the rest of the year. We will start our meetings again on Monday July 7th Bernie Kunkel will run the meeting. The Mississippi debacle, Common Core update, talk about State House candidates we need to rally around, and a recap of Monday night's KET toll debate, will be on the agenda. Great way to get back at it. We will meet at the Asian Buffett on Mall Rd in Florence. Starts at 6 pm. Please bring a friend and get informed. Hope to see everyone there.
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.