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Green Paper: Brent Spence Bridge Toll

Ohio Environmental Council, May 14, 2014

Amended House Bill 497 (As Passed by the Ohio House)

OEC’s Summary:

  • Aligns Ohio law with Federal law to authorize ODOT to toll existing capacity.
  • Enables the implementation of All Electronic Tolling by authorizing ODOT to implement open-road tolling for the Brent Spence Bridge.
  • Establishes privacy controls to protect the public disclosure of private information.
  • Provides due process provisions to enable enforcement of collection of AET invoices.
  • Updates ODOT’s Public Private Partnership law.
  • Amends the ODOT Toll Project Law to include conversion of a high occupancy vehicle lane on a highway, bridge, or tunnel to a toll project.

OEC’s Perspective: 2 Frogs

Traffic congestion does more than slow the movement of passengers and freight and put the brake on economic productivity. Idling vehicles also waste fuel. ODOT estimates that vehicle congestion wastes 1.6M gallons of fuel each year on the Brent Spence Bridge. Expanding the bridge corridor to 16 lanes is projected to reduce wasted fuel by more than 75 percent. ┬áThat’s good news for motorists, as tailpipe emissions can actually take a bigger toll on the occupants of a vehicle that those standing next to a highway. According to several studies, in-cabin levels of certain pollutants can be several times higher than outside a car. That’s because the gases and pollutants spewed by vehicles concentrate in the small air volume inside of a car. Cabin air filters trap only a fraction these pollutants. Experts say there is little you can do to reduce your exposure, other than avoiding rush hour traffic and getting stuck behind older model cars and diesel trucks and buses. A modern replacement bridge makes sense for our economy and for our environment and human health.

Recommendation:

The OEC supports this sensible legislation. We encourages its sponsors to expand the ODOT Toll Project law to authorize not only high-occupancy vehicle lanes but also bus rapid transit lanes and fixed guide-way rail transit lanes for potential future toll funding. Public transportation is a proven traffic congestion reliever. Integrating public transit into the new bridge would yield additional dividends for connection and convenient access to downtown and metro Cincinnati.