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Grayson: Tolling is how roads are built today

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Joe Webb) -- Another voice in the choir led for tolls to pay for replacing the Brent Spence Bridge Tuesday.

New northern Kentucky chamber of commerce president, Trey Grayson, hit the ground running on his first day.  Grayson said the bridge project needs to get moving and that tolls are a modern fact of life.

Grayson started his first day on the job with a listening session with local media.  The Dixie Heights grad and former Kentucky secretary of state talked about the importance of building the workforce, bringing business to the airport and, of course, the Brent Spence Bridge. He quickly took a side on the issue that's divided the community.

"Tolling is how roads are built nowadays.  But we have to convince people.  We have to make the case because the default position is, 'I don't want to pay for it,'" said Grayson.
   
Nobody does but someone will eventually have to come up with $2.5 billion because the 50-year-old span was determined to be functionally obsolete.  Ohio passed legislation to make electronic tolls possible.  Kentucky's efforts died in the last session.

At the General Electric news conference in downtown Tuesday, Ohio Governor John Kasich said he was thrilled to hear Grayson's stance.  Congressman Brad Wenstrup wouldn't yet sign off on tolls.

Representative Brad Wenstrup, (R) of Ohio, said, "We need to find ways to create new revenue in Washington to help our transportation and infrastructure throughout the country."
   
That was what tolling opponents have said from the beginning. Grayson called tolls a fact of life.  And said any lobbying efforts in Frankfort won't bear fruit unless public sentiment changes.

"We have to do a better job of selling the members of our community.  This is something that is really important and needed now," said Grayson.

Grayson said the lobbying necessary in Kentucky's general assembly won't work unless they can convince lawmakers that supporting the Brent Spence Bridge project will be a good investment for the entire state, not just northern Kentucky.

The Brent Spence Bridge opened in 1963.  It carries 172,000 cars and trucks a day but was designed to carry 80,000.



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