As WVXU's Howard Wilkinson points out, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Ohio Gov. John Kasich played Good Cop, Bad Cop with the idea of replacing the crumbling main bridge over the Ohio River, the Brent Spence, with a toll bridge. Northern Kentucky leaders know that tolls are going to cost us a lot here in NKY, and it's going to cost those leaders their jobs more than likely.
It seems that Ohio’s Republican governor, who is not the shy and retiring type when it comes to speaking his mind, left some noses out of joint Wednesday when he hooked up with Kentucky’s Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, at Covington’s RiverCenter.
Kasich and Beshear said the two states would work on trying to reduce the estimated $2.6 billion price tag for replacing the bridge and re-doing the highway corridor. And they said they would have a 50 percent discount on tolls for daily commuters. Kasich said, too, that Ohio will now split the costs with Kentucky, even though it is Kentucky’s bridge.
This was aimed at convincing state legislators in Frankfort to accept the idea of tolls and move forward with funding for the project – something that the anti-toll legislators from Northern Kentucky have been battling for a long time now.
That's putting it mildly. Kasich has poached a number of NKY businesses across that bridge into Cincinnati with the promise of big tax incentives, and now Kasich is adding insult to injury by making Norther Kentucky foot the bill for the Brent Spence through tolls.
NKY United, a group opposed to tolls for construction of a Brent Spence Bridge replacement, put something up on its website taking Kasich to task and asking Northern Kentuckians to sign a petition to Kasich demanding he apologize.
“Governor Kasich has personally lobbied to take businesses and jobs from NKY, and yet he stands in the very building that once housed some of these businesses and makes personal attacks against our elected leaders?,” the website said.
Kasich, NKY United said, “should apologize; and if he cannot control himself he should stay out of Kentucky.”
It’s not clear if this means all of Kentucky; or just the northern part. After all, he may want to take his kids down to see the Kentucky Horse Park someday.
At any rate, as of mid-afternoon Friday, there were 2,162 signatures on the petition.
Frank put a link to the petition on his Facebook page.
“I don’t expect Kasich will apologize,’’ Frank said. “I just want to see if some of the legislators downstate might be influenced that tolls are a bad idea.”
So the battle continues, but it's looking more and more like the rest of Ohio and Kentucky have decided that commuters in Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties are the ones who are going to have to pay the lion's share of the $2.6 billion, one trip at a time.