Truck Drivers Express Outrage Over Proposed Toll

Brent Spence Bridge

Taxes, regulations, fuel prices and tolls and bogging down many drivers, and there’s doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.

As officials discuss the option of upgrading the aging Brent Spence Bridge in Ohio, truck drivers and trucking companies are voicing their concerns.

“Some folks say, ‘Oh, just let the trucks pay the tolls,’”  Larry Davis, president of the Ohio Trucking Association, told Cincinnati News. “Well, everything you have, you got from a truck. It didn’t get to the local grocery store or Kmart without a truck. Yes, the cost of goods does go up” because of tolls.

It’s not just the proposal of another toll that is upsetting the drivers, it’s the fact that the proposed toll has truck drivers paying a six times higher rate than other motorists; $20 and $30 in tolls per round trip.

Drivers and trucking companies in the area said that they will likely do one of two things: avoid the toll bridge or pass the cost on to the consumer.

“Local trucking companies are prepared to take I-275 and I-471 to cross the Ohio River if the Brent Spence becomes a tollway. Drivers for several area trucking companies already use those routes occasionally to avoid rush-hour congestion,” Cincinnati News reported.

While many drivers say they’ll find an alternate route, they always come back, says Transportation officials.  Ten to forty percent of drivers take an alternate route when tolls are placed, however, most revert to their old route within two months, the officials told Cincinnati News.

Four other bridges connect downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and many fear those bridges will take the brunt of the wear and tear.

“Long-term, you’ll start to see some wear-and-tear on the other bridges,” said Brant Osborne, executive vice president of Osborne Trucking in Fairfield.

The American Trucking Association and its affiliates in Ohio and Kentucky  has proposed an alternative to the toll.

“Tolls are not an efficient and fair way to collect the tax,” said Jamie Fiepke, president and CEO of the Kentucky Motor Transport Association  “Nobody will ever convince me that it is. There’s just too much leakage – diversion and people not paying their fair share.”

Since 1993, the gas tax has remained unchanged.

“For every dollar of fuel-tax revenue that you generate, roughly 98 to 99 cents goes toward steel, concrete, asphalt – actual construction (materials and labor),” said McNally of the American Trucking Association. “With tolls, you’re only getting about 70 to 75 cents back in actual investment because of the cost of tolling equipment and maintaining a government bureaucracy to manage and operate (the tollway).”

Which plan do you favor, higher tolls or fuel taxes?