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To toll or not to toll: Ohio Gov. confident new Brent Spence will be built
CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- Ohio Governor John Kasich says there will be a new Brent Spence Bridge despite a vote by Kentucky lawmakers that could kill the project.
Kasich wants tolls to pay for it but House members in the Bluegrass state says no and their bill banning them is now in the Senate. Governor Kasich came to Cincinnati's Withrow High School to talk about mentorship programs, building bridges between corporate volunteers and students.
But he was also asked by reporters about another bridge, the Brent Spence Bridge between Cincinnati and northern Kentucky.
Gov. Kasich said, "The legislators in northern Kentucky have always said they don't like tolls. This can't be done without tolls. It's just the process. I look at it as keep plugging."
A critical way to get the 2.6 billion dollar bridge replacement built is with a public-private partnership.
"I think the public private partnerships is a 21st century solution," Kasich continued.
The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed a bill allowing those partnerships, but at same time prohibited the use of tolls. That's the private part, for the Brent Spence, and also took 37 million state dollars away from the project. But Ohio's governor said this is just part of the political process.
"If I didn't have confidence in the Governor of Kentucky I'd be concerned, but this guy knows what he's doing. He's committed to this project and cooler heads will prevail. We'll get this done," Governor Kasich said.
The bridge at Withrow High School is a symbol of the school and also a symbol of public private partnerships. Withrow was built in 1919 and the bridge has been repaired a few times since then with public money from the school system and private money volunteers. But this public private partnership was considerably less than two billion dollars plus.
But Ohio's Governor said there will be a new Brent Spence Bridge with tolls. "There's no reason to panic. People get worked up and hyped up but the bridge is going to get done. I'd rather it be done yesterday but we're gonna keep at it and be steady. There's no reason to panic about this."
But politically, to get the bridge, it seems like a high stakes game of political poker.
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