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Op-Ed: Bevin's Position on Tolls for Bridge Project Disappointing to NKY

 

The following op-ed is written by Covington Mayor Joe Meyer

As the Mayor of Northern Kentucky’s largest city, I feel compelled to speak out about Governor Bevin’s shocking endorsement of tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge at Tuesday night’s debate at Northern Kentucky University.

Why is his position shocking to me? 

For more than five years, since Governor Bevin first ran against Mitch McConnell, he has publicly and privately opposed tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge. Governor Bevin has assured Republican and Democratic leaders in Northern Kentucky that he understood our concerns. In 2015, Governor Bevin campaigned against tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge, telling the Courier-Journal he was “absolutely opposed to using tolling as a mechanism for getting dollars for projects that we haven't been more thoughtful about how to pay for with the current tax payers that are in the system right now." 

Tuesday night, he reversed course, and said that “there's no way around having some type of tolling on a bridge this size.” He said “the users of this bridge and these roads have to pay for it.” He turned his back on five years of promises and commitments. 

Whatever other issues one may have with his administration, this was an area where I thought we could count on him, and I know many of my Republican allies felt the same way. Many have reached out to me this morning to express their feelings of betrayal.  

The Covington city commission, and almost all of Northern Kentucky’s local elected officials, remain adamantly opposed to tolls as a means for financing any Brent Spence Bridge project. Our legislative delegation, from Republican Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) to Democratic Representative Buddy Wheatley (D-Covington), oppose tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge. 

I have fought tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge for years with a coalition of Northern Kentuckians that crosses party loyalties, city borders, and county lines. From Teamsters to Tea Partiers, from Covington to Georgetown, we have worked together to oppose Frankfort’s effort to toll that bridge with good reason: Tolling will cause diversion through the City of Covington and many other cities, stressing our infrastructure and historic neighborhoods, while burdening residents and businesses.

Tolls will place Covington and Northern Kentucky at an economic disadvantage relative to the Ohio side. Why would a person choose to live in Kentucky if they have to pay a thousand dollars a year tax to get to their job? Why would a business located in Covington or Northern Kentucky stay here if they have to pay a $10 toll per truck to cross the bridge to service their customers?

Tolls divide the region into winners and losers. They separate us; they don’t unite us.

Tuesday night, Governor Bevin turned his back on all of us. It’s disappointing, and we deserve better.