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Voinovich Wants Talks, Tolls? In Replacing Major N. KY Bridge

COVINGTON, KY. -- Sen. George Voinovich says he will sit down Monday with officials from both sides of the river to discuss issues surrounding Brent Spence Bridge, including how to pay for replacing it, reports the Cincinnati Enqurier Website, NKY.COM.

The span carries two major Interstates that pass through Kentucky and over the Ohio River at Covington.

Although the question is far from answered, said Voinovich, a Republican who has been in the U.S. Senate since 1999. However, he said, imposing tolls cannot be ruled out as a financing tool.

"Sure, it's going to be one of the options," Voinovich said in a telephone interview last week. "It's got to be looked at."

Two bills to give Kentucky local officials the authority to approve toll roads and bridges came to a dead end this spring in the legislature after the idea of tolls provoked a sharp public outcry, reports NKY.COM.

The 45-year-old Brent Spence Bridge carries 150,000 vehicles a day on Interstates 71 and 75 over the Ohio River; because it is overcrowded, its lanes are too narrow, it lacks breakdown lanes and it is functionally obsolete.

Voinovich told the Cincinnati Enquirer that although the Commonwealth of Kentucky owns the bridge, it cannot be expected to pay for a replacement.

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