- Associated Press - Saturday, December 31, 2016

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Some southern Indiana residents are bracing for the impact of new tolls on three Ohio River bridges, which could prove expensive for frequent commuters.

The tolls were created to fund the $2.3 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, which built two new bridges and rehabilitated an existing one crossing the river near Louisville, Kentucky.

Toll rates that took effect Friday range from $2 to $12, depending on vehicle size and whether the driver has an online account and transponder to pay the charges or has bills mailed to them.

Some residents will need to evaluate their spending priorities in order to handle the toll costs, Indiana University Southeast finance professor Uric Dufrene told the News and Tribune (https://bit.ly/2iKr9c8 ).

A 2013 study showed that although the increased monthly cost of $40 to $80 wouldn’t seem significant to most people, it would disproportionately affect those living in low-income areas.

“They’re going to have to sacrifice something in order to pay that toll,” Community Action of Southern Indiana executive director Phil Ellis said. “That might be a decrease in groceries, that could be not being able to pay their full utility bills. … Something’s going to be left unpaid, to be honest with you.”

About 35 percent of employed residents in Indiana’s Clark County commute to jobs in Louisville. State officials decided to make the Louisville-area public bus system exempt from tolls to help low-income residents, and the group overseeing the bridge tolls emphasizes that two Ohio River bridges in the area don’t have tolls.

“The states took that seriously, and that’s why they worked hard to set a passenger vehicle rate that was as low as they possibly could, and one of the lowest in the nation,” RiverLink spokesman Chad Carlton said.


Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., https://www.newsandtribune.com

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