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G'town says 'no' to tolls

November 03, 2010
The Town of Georgetown has joined other Southern Indiana municipalities in a protest against the addition of tolls on existing bridges spanning the Ohio River, saying the tolls would be unfair to the town's residents, many of whom make their living in the Louisville area and must cross the bridges twice a day.

Georgetown, in a vote at its regular monthly meeting Oct. 18, passed a resolution opposing the use of tolls on the Ohio River bridges.

"The town board determined that it is not good policy to exact tools on a daily basis for Southern Indiana residents whose livelihood depends on a job in Kentucky," said Jim Reynolds, public works director for the town, who attended the meeting. "The Interstate bridges serve regional and national interests, so funding should not be from local commuters."

The resolution idea was presented to the council by board member Aaron Striegel.

"Aaron (Striegel) actually brought it up," Billy Stewart, town council president, said in a later interview. "He introduced it. I had thought about the issue before, but Aaron thought it would be more meaningful to voice our opposition to the tolls in a resolution. A lot of our people here in Georgetown work and shop in Louisville, and this would be a lot of additional expense for them. We believe that it may be acceptable to put tolls on a new bridge but not on existing ones. They've already been paid for. And maybe there should be choices like there are in Houston. You can pay toll to use a certain road, or use another route free, but with more traffic delays."

The City of Jeffersonville voted on and passed a similar resolution Oct. 18. The Town of Clarksville will consider the same issue at its next meeting, and it is also being considered by the City of New Albany and could be brought before the city council there soon. Clark County has not yet acted on the issue.

The idea of tolls on existing bridges and Spaghetti Junction surfaced several months ago and, as far back as April 15, protesters gathered near the Clark Memorial Bridge to voice opposition. Then, the issue quieted for a while and was brought to the forefront again in September when the Louisville Metro Council passed a non-binding resolution opposing the tolls on existing Ohio River bridges and roads such as Spaghetti Junction.

There has been talk of a $3 toll for the bridges which, some say, would pay at least half of the $4.1 billion cost of the Ohio River Bridges project. The $3 toll could cost Indiana residents working in Louisville $6 per day to go to work and return home.

In the Georgetown resolution, the council noted that "the Ohio River should serve as a focus of promoting cohesion within the metropolitan area, not to act as a barrier to cohesion" and that "a bridge connecting I-265 in Clark County with I-265 in Jefferson County, Ky., is a vital link in the economic development of Southern Indiana and the imposition of tolls on existing bridges may threaten the bridge project which includes the vital link of the I-265 bridges."

The Georgetown resolution also noted that the town council favors the "eastern bridge location" and that bridge would immediately mitigate congestion on the interstate highways in Clarksville, Jeffersonville, New Albany and Louisville.

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    November 07, 2010 | 07:57 AM

    Just to be clear, New Albany was actually the first municipality to vote for an anti-tolls resolution. They started the snowball and I expect to see more soon. The anti-tolling movement was already called "delusional" (and) this was a small group of people. With Georgetown jumping on board, that small group gets bigger each and every day.

Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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