by Curt Kovener
New toll rates for three bridges connecting Louisville and Southern Indiana will increase 2.5% on July 1.
If you routinely travel to the Bluegrass state for business or pleasure, it will cost you a smidgen more. The new rate for a passenger vehicle with a prepaid account and transponder will go to $2.10 per crossing. The current toll rate is $2.05 per crossing.
Neither state wanted to raise any form of taxes to pay for the much needed new and re-worked bridges. And what better way to pay for the bridges than by the drivers who use them? But there is the law of unintended consequences.
Drivers with prepaid accounts and electronic transponders always pay the lowest toll rates, according to RiverLink, the company responsible for collecting the toll.
It costs just over two bucks a crossing on the southbound I-65 Kennedy Bridge and the northbound I-65 Lincoln Bridge and east-end I-265/KY 841 Lewis and Clark Bridge connecting Prospect, KY and Utica, IN
It’s $2.10 if you have a transponder and money in your account to pay that cheaper rate. Otherwise you eventually pay $4.20 per crossing. And that’s for passenger cars, vans & pick-up trucks. Bigger vehicles pay more.
There have been horror stories in connection with the electronic tolling.
If you obtain a transponder and put money into your account to automatically pay the toll, but are an infrequent Ohio River toll bridge crosser, your account gets charged a monthly service fee for your lack of use. And when you do cross, if there is insufficient money in your account because you forgot or get too busy, then you get a bill at the higher toll rate.
But maybe you are that rare river-crossing traveler and just opt to pay the full-tilt toll. You are not without potential bad news, as well.
RiverLink may not always send you a bill (as with a single crossing or two). But not getting a bill does not excuse you from paying. It is the motorist’s responsibility for going on-line, checking with RiverLink to see if you owe any toll then paying by credit card. This I know from experience.
If you don’t check and don’t pay, other bad things happen. You can’t re-new your license plates until the toll is paid. And you can’t simply pay the toll bill at the BMV. No, that would make things too easy.
I suggest three options for crossing the Ohio River from this neck of the woods. I use the non-tolled Sherman-Minton I-64 Bridge crossing from New Albany to the west side of Louisville or using the Clark Memorial US 31-2nd Street Bridge if I am going downtown.
Then if I am traveling to visit the eastern part of the Commonwealth, I can opt to cross the Madison-Milton Bridge and take the winding & hilly US 421 to Frankfort.
And all without paying a toll or worrying about electronic tolling non-billing nightmares. Granted, it takes a bit longer but having one less worry makes my stress-filled life less so.
Without any legislative action at all, toll rates increase every July 1 by 2.5 percent, unless the rate of inflation (as measured by the Consumer Price Index) is higher. Tolling, a bi-state effort between the Indiana and Kentucky legislatures, started Dec. 30, 2016.
Back then both states agreed to privatizing the bridge toll service which is why neither state says they are responsible for your toll bridge bad experience.