A bill passed the Kentucky House yesterday that would potentially pave the way for repairs to the existing Brent Spence Bridge and construction of a new bridge alongside it, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. A similar bill was introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly last year, but was vetoed by governor Steve Beshear because it contained language banning tolls for this sort of project. The new bill, which allows private companies to partner with the state on major projects such as the Brent Spence Bridge, passed the House without the same anti-toll language as last year. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville and was opposed by all northern Kentucky caucus members except Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger. A breakdown of the final vote is available, here.
Arnold Simpson, D-Covington, authored the anti-toll amendments last year, but was unable to garner enough support to add them to this bill. The Enquirer reports that he was able to add three amendments to the bill, including language that would prohibit tolls once the costs of construction were paid off, the creation of a bi-state authority to ensure local control over the project and a requirement for a cost-benefit analysis before large projects were undertaken.
While the bill lays the foundation for a bridge project, it is not technically a vote for tolls, as it contains language that would require any funding scheme for the bridge to be approved by the Kentucky General Assembly, according to Governor Beshear. The bill will now head to the Kentucky Senate.
Photo credit: John P. Salvatore via Wikimedia Commons