People who routinely travel to Indiana will want to take into account new tolls on Louisville bridges that cross the Ohio River.
Mindy Peterson, spokeswoman for RiverLink, the new tolling system, said the tolls go into effect Dec. 30 and are expected to remain until at least 2053.
Money collected from tolls will go toward paying off the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project, which saw the construction of two new bridges that span the river, a project with a $2.3 billion cost that is being split between Kentucky and Indiana.
“Tolling is the means to pay for this project,” she said. “It’s certainly not a surprise to anyone in the area.”
According to a Transportation Cabinet press release, tolls on the bridges will range from $2 to $12, depending on the size of the vehicle and whether or not the driver has a RiverLink or E-ZPass account.
For people driving normal consumer vehicles, the toll will be $2 with an account, which requires a minimum of $20, and $4 without one, Peterson said.
Drivers with accounts can use RiverLink or E-ZPass transponders to have the cost of a toll taken automatically from their accounts when they drive past a sensor.
Drivers without transponders will pay higher rates and get bills in the mail after they’re identified based on the vehicle’s plates, the release said.
The system will not require drivers to stop or slow down to pay a toll, Peterson said.
“We have a much faster, safer transportation system in Louisville,” she said.
The new Abraham Lincoln Bridge, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge and the new Lewis and Clark Bridge linking Prospect, Ky., and Utica, Ind., will have tolls.
The Clark Memorial and Sherman Minton bridges will not be tolled.
Typically in Kentucky, tolls historically were put in place to pay for projects such as the building or expansion of new highways or other large transportation-related infrastructure projects and discontinued shortly thereafter, Ryan Watts, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Transportation, said.
According to Watts, the last toll facilities in Kentucky were discontinued 10 years ago.
A press release from former governor Ernie Fletcher’s communication office dated Sep. 27, 2006, said the tolls along William H. Natcher and Audubon Parkways were being discontinued that November.
Wes Watt, spokesman for the Department of Highways in Bowling Green, said whether or not getting an account is worth it will depend on how often someone needs to cross over into Indiana.
“It really all comes down to the frequency with which people think they’re going to use these bridges,” he said.
Warren County’s District 6 Magistrate Darrell Traughber said the bridge’s tolls are “hefty” but likely justified because of how expensive the project was.
Though they might not be widespread, there are plenty of people locally who will be paying to cross into Indiana frequently, he said.
“I’m sure it’ll get old fast for a lot of people,” he said.
For companies dependent on shipping or travel, the tolls could have a massive impact.
Dexter Prince, an office manager with Taz Trucking in Bowling Green, said the company, with its EZ-Pass account, will have to pay $10 each time one of its semi trucks crosses any of the bridges.
Taz has more than 65 trucks that are frequently required to go into Indiana via the bridges in Louisville, she said.
“It just wouldn’t be practical to pay them to go a different route,” she said, adding that Taz pays drivers by the mile.
The company will likely pass tolling expenses on to its customers, Prince said, adding that the increase in price wouldn’t be any more than “what the tolls actually cost.”
— Follow Daily News reporter Jackson French on Twitter @Jackson_French or visit bgdailynews.com.