Up To Speed

Tolled highways may soon become part of everyday life in Cincinnati

Tolled highways may soon become part of everyday life in Cincinnati.

The unwillingness of lawmakers to approve an increase to gasoline taxes is causing otherwise unforeseen effects. State officials from both Ohio and Kentucky have already stated that the reconstruction of the Brent Spence Bridge will require modern tolling, and now Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) is expanding the idea by proposing the use of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on the reconstructed portion of I-75 through Hamilton County, in order to help pay for other state transportation projects. More from the Cincinnati Enquirer:

The Ohio Department of Transportation will launch a study in coming months to examine charging tolls to motorists who want to travel quickly in uncongested lanes. Motorists could pay to use these so-called “price-managed” lanes, or continue to travel for free in lanes jammed with heavy traffic.

Price-managed lanes have become a national trend as states face transportation budget shortfalls and rising congestion in urban areas. The two-year, $105 billion federal transportation bill passed last summer opened the door for states to do more tolling – and Ohio is jumping in.

Gov. John Kasich launched an aggressive effort early this year to consider tolling and other alternative funding to eliminate a $1.6 billion transportation deficit and move up construction schedules on projects across the state…At some point, the I-75 corridor stretching from the Western Hills Viaduct to I-275 could be added to the list of highways eligible for price-managed lanes. That’s because the $980 million I-75 construction projects – separated into two, eight-phase plans known as the Mill Creek Expressway and Thru the Valley – call for one new lane to be added in each direction.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.