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Our Riverfront Butchered Permanently
Prevent the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century
Divide the Project / Not the Community
Louisville + ↓town ORBP = Fail
“City may pave way with electronic tolling system”. This was the predictably positive headline on a non-editorial story featured in today’s Courier-Journal. Although the headline attempted to put a positive spin on Louisville’s impending disaster, the content of the article did have some prescient facts and unbiased expert opinion. Mike Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington noted the difficulty in collecting tolls from out of town drivers.
‘If you’re going to do license plate tolling, that’s great so long as you actually have legal authority to go get the money. … How are you going to go get people from Illinois, people from Florida going the other way? There’s a toll-collection issue that is … significant,’
The article goes on to point out a major, no doubt intentional, oversight in the recently expanded state taxpayer funded study of tolling options.
“‘The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet doesn’t keep data on who drives the interstates and bridges connecting Louisville and Southern Indiana, and that information is not part of the $186,000 toll study consultant Wilbur Smith Associates is conducting for the cabinet.”
To the Courier-Journal’s credit the story included an analysis of the origins of cross river traffic trips from University of Louisville economist and 8664 proponent Paul Coomes. Additionaly, The C-J did their own research into the percentage of cross river travelers by using census data, ultimately conlcluding that non-locals are the majority.
“But other figures, including census data, suggest that more than half of the 236,000 vehicles that cross the three spans over the Ohio River — the Sherman Minton, Kennedy and Clark Memorial bridges — each day originate from outside the Louisville area.”
It is not until halfway through the article, probably in the interior pages of the print edition, that the bombshell revelation of the Dallas and Denver area toll road collection rates is established.
“In the Dallas and Denver areas, collection rates from out-of-state drivers range between about 30 percent and 60 percent, according to toll agencies.”
So according to the Courier-Journal about half of the traffic crossing the river is non-local and these folks are expected to pay somewhere between 30-60% of the time. Isn’t the whole point of a toll road to make all users pay for their share of the road’s construction and maintenance costs? In the electronic tolling scenario favored by the ORBP and the C-J editorial board, locals will be paying for a disproportionate share of building and maintaining a hideously ugly, $2-4 billion expanded waterfront expressway and a massive quadruple stacked Los Angeles style Kennedy interchange that will define Louisville’s image for the next 110+ years.
Although the issue of electronic tolling collection rates should have been covered years ago, the content of the C-J’s article was refreshingly even-handed. I can’t say as much about the headline though. A more neutral headline reflecting the great journalistic tradition of the Courier-Journal would read, City Pioneers Use Of Electronic Tolls, Questions Persist or Bridges Plan On Cutting Edge Of Tolling, Questions Persist. Important issues not covered by this Courier-Journal article include the numerous revenue shortfalls for recently built toll roads, an analysis of the change in traffic pattern after tolls are added, and the fact that cars must slow down to have their licence plates scanned by electronic tolling technology.
They’re Lying To Us will be a recurring feature on SAVE LOUISVILLE that exposes the lies of the Bridges Authority and their efforts to deceive the public into accepting the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century: the current design of the downtown ORBP. The rendering below was put out by the Bridges Authority in May of this year
The location of the ramps in the above rendering are clearly inconsistent with the 2 dimeninsional overhead ramp location maps provided by the ORBP’s website http://www.kyinbridges.com/maps-features/default.aspx?ml=1
Save Louisville is sending this questionnaire to every urban planning professor in the United States. All responses will be published on this website. If you have a background in urban planning or a just a keen interest in these issues please send responses to 1 or more questions at firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your name, professional background, and contact information. Your efforts toward preventing the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century are greatly appreciated.
1) Will the downtown portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project have a positive impact on Louisville’s long-range economic health?
2) In comparison to the current downtown ORBP, would a context sensitive, partially capped at-grade parkway, interstate or not, enhance the city’s economic prospects and image.
3) Is the entire Ohio River Bridges Project a fiscally prudent plan?
4) Do you think the I-265 east end bridge will absorb a substantial amount of the cross river traffic? What if it is the only bridge with tolls?
5) Based on the growth in traffic volume is the current design of the downtown ORBP justified? In conjunction with an east end by-pass bridge, would 1 or more local access bridges downtown eliminate the need for a second interstate bridge downtown.
6) Does the problem that the ORBP attempts to solve justify tolling existing infrastructure?
7) What effects will tolling have on the local economy and traffic patterns?
8) Is license plate picture capture tolling a realistic plan? What are the collection rates for this technology?
9) Do you expect this project to come in on budget? Do you have a guess as to the total price tag of this project?
10) Is there precedent for altering a major piece of infrastructure after the record of decision has been given by the federal government?
SAVE LOUISVILLE will be a one million + concerned citizens strong organization that considers the downtown portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project, as currently designed, unacceptable. SAVE LOUISVILLE will use the collective voices of over one million people and the expert opinion of urban planning profesors to stop or alter the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century: the downtown ORBP. SAVE LOUISVILLE Supports the common sense approach to solving Louisville Kentucky’s traffic problems: build the East End Bridge and re-evaluate the situation downtown.