Last night, the New Albany City Council approved the rough draft of a resolution condemning tolling as a means to pay for the $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges Project — which will build an East End bridge, a Downtown bridge and an expansion of Spaghetti Junction — as well as specifically advocating that the project be scaled down.
Council members voted six in favor of the resolution, with three voting against.
“The thinking was that this is still in the early stages of a discussion on how this bridge project will be funded,” says John Gonder, at-large New Albany councilman. “Tolling is another tax to put on people, and as the resolution says (tolling is) an impediment to a cohesive metropolitan area, and serves as a barrier to free movement between New Albany and Louisville.”
Gonder also says the resolution explicitly calls for the construction of an East End bridge, which would span the Ohio River between the I-265/US-42 junction and Utica, In., and that the project as-is is too large to be built without tolls.
“The infrastructure of the bridges was paid for 40 years ago,” Gonder continues. “The Kennedy Bridge is paid for, and it just seems that the downtown bridge is the driver for the tolls. From our perspective in New Albany — these are my words; I’m not speaking for anybody else on the council, mind you — the downtown bridge is not going to be a real benefit, whereas the eastern bridge, that should take a lot of the pass-through traffic off the Kennedy bridge. You may find, once that eastern bridge is built, you don’t need a downtown bridge anyway.”
New Albany’s stance comes the day after the wildly unpopular Louisville-Southern Indiana Bridges Authority unveiled a cadre of tolling options, the most nightmarish of which involves tolling Spaghetti Junction.
“Let’s focus on the eastern bridge,” says Gonder. “That’s the real solution to this entire issue.”