Tolls? We don’ need no stinkin’ tolls.

For the second time in a week, The Courier-Journal’s editorial board hath ordered another curious article about the $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, which, for the record, aims to construct:

  1. An East End bridge.
  2. A Downtown bridge.
  3. A Butchertown/Waterfront-killing redesign of Spaghetti Junction.
  4. 1,000-plus miles of concrete barriers, dragon’s teeth and minefields blocking every possible paved entrance to Louisville Metro featuring signs that read “Yeah, but you’d probably enjoy Nashville more anyhow.”


With the article in question, The C-J has introduced a weird new line of rhetoric into the tolling debate, which has taken a sharp turn toward full-on panic since the Louisville-Southern Indiana Bridges “Authority” announced a potential six dollar round-trip toll: Namely, that Louisvillians are whiny bitches who don’t know what’s good for them. While I normally agree with that sentiment during an election cycle, the content of the story is a little troubling for other reasons.

Since then, motorists have been quick to forget how the state’s highway system was built, (Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Spokesman Chuck) Wolfe said, noting, “You have a whole generation now that doesn’t have any experience with paying tolls in this state.”


Unlike other communities, Kentuckians haven’t been getting raped on a regular basis by tolling authorities like the amazing citizens of San Francisco, who live in the most expensive neighborhoods on the planet and don’t even know what six dollars looks like.

The article also glosses over the differences between the leading mayoral candidates, Councilman Hal Heiner, R-19, and Democrat Greg Fischer, essentially saying they’re the same:

Mayoral candidates scoffed at the estimates as too high.

That one simple sentence belies the fact that Heiner favors a scaled-down version of the project, advocating the construction of an East End bridge first and then a Downtown span, if at all. As for Fischer, nobody is sure what he believes because he hasn’t articulated anything specific yet, perhaps the result of a reluctance to burn mental calories. This implied lack of distinction allows both candidates to blur together as a homogeneous anti-tolling pair when, in fact, they hold pretty different stances on the issue.

But the most egregious part of the article isn’t contained in the article itself, but appears as a tiny blurb alongside it:


Kentucky’s first tollgate was established in 1797, at Cumberland Ford on what was then called the “Wilderness Road,” or “Boone Trace,” from Virginia into Kentucky. A century later, expanded tolls on a 7,000-mile system of privately maintained turnpikes in Lexington, Louisville and Maysville met “open rebellion” in 1896, according to The Courier-Journal’s archives. “Toll houses were burned, barriers destroyed, and tollgate keepers horse-whipped” prompting counties to buy the privately owned roads and free them to public travel.

In other words, if you oppose tolls, you’re a drunken pyromaniac at best, a filthy terrorist/enemy of the state at worst. Once again, we have to hand it to the C-J — but for what, I’m not sure.


  1. Steve
    Posted July 26, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Before I read the paper this weekend, I hadn’t known that $3 is a bridge-crossin’ bargain.

    And here I thought we’d be gouged for a boondoggle that’s twice as massive and expensive as that which is needed.

    Thanks, C-J. Now tell me where I can get a discount on ugly shoes twice as large as my feet.

    The politburo is still feebly seeking to control our hearts and minds while they pump concrete down our throats and shout, “Say you LIKE it, say you’ll PAY it!!!”

    Forgive me if I sound angry or panicked, but I’m afraid I’m hearing the last, crazed whimpers of a once-great newspaper which, years ago (when it was winning Pulitzers), would have cataloged the ravages of this proposed atrocity and led the rebellion it lambastes.

  2. stu noland
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    The combination of tolls and an unmarketable gateway/image defining waterfront make the current design of the downtown ORBP the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century. This economy crushing boondogle will pull the plug and reopen the brain drain in a way Louisville has never seen before. If Louisville ignores common sense and the conventional wisdom of the urban planning profession the city’s failing economy will earn Louisville the nickname of South Detroit.

  3. Puhn Tang
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Meador, the C-J determines what’s news in this here town, and don’t you forget it, whippersnapper. Why, just today, the C-J brought in Mitch Albom to discuss REAL journalism and standards, MITCH FUCKING ALBOM who was suspended from his paper for writing phantom stories ahead of events which didn’t happen! Let me take you down to River Fields, where nothing is real, nothing to get hung about..River Fields forever.

  4. Kelly
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Stu is right, if this mess gets built, the brain drain from this community will have heads spinning. I’m not ready to give up yet, I honestly don’t see where the money is going to come from (tolls or no tolls) but if they build, no one will come but a lot will leave. I hear Chicago is a pretty great place to live.

  5. Curt Morrison
    Posted July 28, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one that thinks “The Drunken Pyromaniacs” would make the BEST. BAND. NAME. EVER.

  6. Puhn Tang
    Posted July 29, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Morrison, if you like drunken pyromaniacs just head north to Detroit for Halloween.