Wednesday, December 05, 2012

As we've been saying: "They will be collecting tolls for 35 years after construction of the east-end bridge."

In August, I covered some of this ground in "My Three Step Therapy for the Tolling Blues."

Southern Indiana’s resident economic oligarchs have diligently labored, backstage-leveraged, and eagerly licked exposed posteriors to provide the metropolitan Louisville region with a gift for the American post-industrial age so woefully inadequate that to this very day, it all seems like a Bill Maher satire piece.

But it’s the Ohio River Bridges Project, an auto-centric, Eisenhower-era, top-down “mobility” solution for the resource-gobbling individualist.

Think of the ORBP as a garishly wrapped box, which when opened, reveals a steaming pile of cattle dung and a slot to drop quarters for the privilege of continuing to smell it.

While other communities nationwide explore futuristic transit options, we get Kerry Stemler’s pre-pubescent idea of an erector set, with his leering tumescence enabled by naked steel girder eroticism, not unlike Dagny Taggart’s attraction to Reardon Metal in that crazy dead woman’s book that the wacko teabaggers still believe is literature.

I’ve never been more proud to have been labeled as an toxic obstructionist than through my adamant opposition to the ORBP. Indeed, the fight isn’t over. Show me where the Sunnyside version of the Alamo stands, and I’ll man the crumbling ramparts against One Southern Indiana’s zombie polo-shirted hordes until the first wildly inaccurate Wilbur Smith revenue estimate causes the river crossing fee to quadruple in mid-sensor-scan.

Whoa -- now, that was some mighty fine writing. But let's move on to coverage of another set-piece meeting held the other day, and yes, tolls will continue to be a sticking point, won't they?

Tolls remain a sticking point at bridges meeting; Comments collected before contract is awarded for east-end bridge, by Braden Lammers (N and T; photo credit to Lammers)

 ... Clarence Hixson, attorney for Coalition for the Advancement of Reasonable Transportation Inc. — or CART — and a party in the federal lawsuit said the group adamantly opposes Indiana entering into a contract with WVB.

“They will be collecting tolls for 35 years after construction of the east-end bridge,” he said. “There is no need to set up a tolling authority to pay high-paid bureaucrats to collect tolls. The inequitable impact is going to be on the lower- and middle-income users of this bridge. If we’re going to announce today a 23 percent reduction in the cost of building the east-end bridge, why are we not going back and looking at funding the bridge with conventional funding resources?” he asked.

Hixson continued and said instead of the $2.9 billion price tag estimated by the states to build the bridges project, with tolling over the 35-year period, costs would be “almost $10 billion collected in tolls from the local community. The cure seems worse than the disease in this case.”

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