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Joe Meyer: Northern Kentucky United Against Tolls

It isn’t often that Northern Kentucky is united in our opinions about anything. We’re a diverse region with a broad range of interests, and at times that makes it difficult for us to reach consensus. 
 
We have always been united against tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge.
 
A majority of Northern Kentucky cities, representing over 80% of the population, have passed “No Toll” resolutions. Almost every poll done to date shows a majority of Northern Kentucky residents oppose tolls. Almost all of our state and local elected officials oppose tolls. 
 
As a result, toll advocates from Ohio have questioned the leadership and commitment of our elected officials, and we have been accused of “stubbornly holding up progress.”
 
We shouldn’t put up with it.
 
 
Amanda Van Benschoten of the Cincinnati Enquirer recently wrote “Northern Kentucky has always prided itself on being a little more forward-thinking.” She’s right—that’s why we oppose tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge. 
 
The results are in on the first uses of tolls and private partners to build transportation infrastructure. The results are poor: empty roads, wasted money, bankruptcies, foreclosures, lawsuits, and legal uncertainty. Tolls are a stale idea, saddled with the stench of failure.
 
Tolls will impact everyone in Northern Kentucky, not just drivers who use the bridge. Tolling creates traffic diversion, congestion and safety issues on local or secondary roads, and will have negative effects on the Northern Kentucky economy.
 
According to the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Options Analysis, traffic volumes on the Clay Wade Bailey and Daniel Carter Beard Bridges are expected to increase by about 24,000. Traffic on the Roebling Suspension Bridge is expected to more than double, and it is unlikely it will be able to handle so much additional traffic.
 
There has been no systematic study of the impact of diversion on Northern Kentucky’s transportation infrastructure.
 
Tolls increase costs for all businesses who use the Brent Spence Bridge to move raw materials, products, or people, resulting in a competitive disadvantage for local businesses and an increased cost of living to our residents.
 
Tolling is tremendously inefficient. Nationally, 33.5% of toll revenue is spent on overhead. We will pay more on the front end in higher borrowing costs to finance the project, and more on the backend, as toll-overhead is a dead weight loss to the region.
 
We launched Northern Kentucky United in order to highlight Northern Kentucky’s opposition to tolls. Much of the Northern Kentucky delegation in the General Assembly fought hard against tolls last session, and we want to make sure they have public support to continue the fight.
 
NKYUnited has put up a petition at NoBStolls.com to urge the public to stand united against tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge. We hope that all Northern Kentuckians will engage on the issues and become active participants in the process.
 
Northern Kentucky deserves an open and transparent discussion about the negative impacts of tolls on the region. We deserve specific, accurate details about the plans for the Brent Spence Bridge Project. 
 
Joe Meyer is a Covington resident, former Secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Cabinet in the Beshear Administration, and a former Kentucky State Senator.