The results are in. Those with a say, say it's time to toll bridge traffic. The deliberative process surrounding the question of how to pay for the Two Bridge Solution yielded the answer which can surprise no one.
So, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. That's why I'm suggesting that when tolls are introduced, they should be imposed on all bridges, those built, as well as those only dreamed of.
The swaggering Mitch Daniels ,in high braggadocio, offered his take on the tolling plan, "We'll be using-as I often say-our favorite revenue source...other people's money." Following the Governor's lead,I suggest that any vehicle licensed in Floyd or Clark Counties in Indiana, and Jefferson County, Kentucky be exempt from tolls. And, rather than relying on electronic gizmos, such as transponders to winnow out the locals, I think we should use good old fashioned toll takers, members of the United Brotherhood of Ticket Takers, Turnstile Operators and Gatemen, since at least one side of the bridge will not land in a right-to-work state.
Drivers with local registrations would affix a sticker to their vehicles which would be plainly visible to the toll taker. A quick calculation yields the finding that, (assuming 30 toll booths staffed 24/7/365) about 180 people, including supervisors and maintenance, would need to be hired. At $16 per hour, the workers would earn about $8 million per year. Since this would all be paid by non-local drivers, that would represent growth to our local economy, and it would only equal about a week and a half of the gate, the handle, the action.
Another reason to toll all bridges is to even out the traffic flow. If only new bridges and The Kennedy bridge are tolled, a disproportionate share of bargain-hunting drivers would clog the Sherman Minton Bridge and bring all of the attendant problems of heavy traffic, such as smog and noise, to New Albany.
Since the current plan assumes a forty year duration for tolling, with local drivers included, the Pass-The-Buck tolling plan I propose would simply be a permanent fixture of our region. Learn to live with it.