Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More on bridge tolls and such

Bloomberg has a story about how the Ohio River bridges project at Louisville could be a model for public-private partnerships for future infrastructure projects, as opposed to what happened when Indiana leased its turnpike to a private operator.

As noted here before, most of the high bridges built over the Ohio River in the early part of the 20th century, at least in my area, were done by private companies. Private entities operated ferries, so it was natural for private entities for build and operate bridges, charging tolls for the opportunity to cross, just as ferries charged tolls.

It's understandable that people who pay fuel taxes for highways and bridges don't want to be charged again to use a bridge. Believe me, I feel that way every time I drive the hundred miles or so of the West Virginia Turnpike. As far as curves and grades so, it's probably the most harrowing four-lane road I have driven, particularly at night. But at present levels of funding, there is no way the West Virginia Division of Highways could take over that road and maintain it without something else being neglected.

Also, there are about twenty miles or so of U.S. 35 along the Kanawha River between Point Pleasant and Charleston that need to be upgraded to four lanes. You have four lanes for most of the way with two lanes through farm country in the middle. That part of the road is dangerous, too, especially when you're driving at or above the 55 mph speed limit and the grille of an 18 wheeler fills your rear view mirror. Much of the traffic on the road is trucks moving between Columbus and Charleston. Locals don't want tolls, and that resistance is slowing down completion of the road.

I understand that people in northern Kentucky are resisting the idea of tolls on a new bridge to replace to take some of the burden off the Brent Spence Bridge. But with large bridge projects costing in the billions now, something will have to give.