Ohio River Bridges Project Wants Thoughts on Minimizing Toll Costs for Low-Income, Minority Drivers

The Ohio River Bridges Project is seeking public comment on a report looking at the economic impact of tolls on low-income people and racial minorities.

The report recommends making TARC buses exempt from tolls that will be on the East End and downtown bridges. In a news release, the bridges project says: 

Many of the mitigation measures focus on the availability and use of transponders – the electronic, vehicle-mounted devices used to record trips across a tolled bridge. Among the transponder measures recommended for consideration:

· Providing free transponders to maximize use and keep costs low

· Distributing transponders through retailers, such as grocery stores and markets; motor vehicle licensing offices; and other government offices convenient for low-income and minority populations

· Establishing “toll operations offices” within low-income and minority communities to allow people to directly and conveniently manage their accounts. These locations could include a mobile site, like a “bookmobile.”

· Developing a Web site and/or smart phone mobile app, so users can order transponders online and have them shipped directly to their homes or businesses.

Several other mitigation methods recommended for further consideration are focused on the financial accounts that motorists will create to pay tolls. They include:

· Establishing a relatively low minimum balance for accounts

· Allowing a wide range of options for the replenishment of funds in a user’s account, including cash, credit/debit cards, money orders, bank transfers, online payments and a smart phone mobile app

· Allowing multiple users/transponders to be funded under a single account

· Establishing brick-and-mortar locations, such as government buildings, DMV locations and grocery stores, as examples, with particular emphasis on low-income areas and minority neighborhoods, for individuals to replenish or make deposits to tolling accounts. Likewise, a mobile source, like a “bookmobile,” could be used to improve convenience.

· Developing a Web site that would allow for the management of accounts online

You can read the entire report here.

The bridge project is planning for “only no-stop, all-electronic tolling” meant to keep traffic moving with no toll booths or coin buckets. The project notes that no tolls will be placed on the Clark Memorial Bridge or the Sherman Minton Bridge.

The project says it is also talking with community leaders and people in low-income and minority neighborhoods.

Both bridges have held groundbreakings. Many of them.

(Related: What You Need to Know About the Ohio River Bridges Project)

The public comments will be taken at www.kyinbridges.com (by July 26) and meetings—at 4 p.m. on July 22 at the Holiday Inn Clarksville (505 Marriott Dr.) and at 4 p.m. on July 23 at the Kentucky African-American Heritage Center (1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.).

The information gathered will be used in a report to be reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration and the bi-state Tolling Body.

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

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