Poll: NKY Opposition to Brent Spence Tolls Remains Firm

Share

Posted by . See more posts about: Smoke Free Policy

CINCINNATI.COM | AMANDA VAN BENSCHOTEN | JANUARY 16, 2015

Anti-toll, anti-smoking ban groups want to find out how many Northern Kentuckians agree with them.

Opposition to tolls is not softening on the south side of the Ohio River, according to a new poll conducted on behalf of the anti-toll group Northern Kentucky United.

The poll found that Northern Kentuckians are against tolling the Brent Spence Bridge by a 2-to-1 margin: 61 percent of the 3,304 likely voters surveyed oppose tolls, while just 27 percent support them to finance the bridge’s long-planned replacement.

The poll also indicates the region might be wiling to wait on the project: more than 80 percent of of Boone, Campbell and Kenton county residents said maintaining the bridge is the responsibility of the federal government, and a slim majority (51 percent) said they’re willing to wait to replace the bridge until federal funding is made available.

Self-identified Independents registered the highest levels of opposition to tolls, 63 percent.

“This reinforces what we’ve said since our inception as an organization in October: a majority of Northern Kentuckians oppose tolls for the bridge, and a plurality are willing to wait,” said NKY United spokeswoman Marisa McNee.

The automated poll surveyed 3,304 likely voters in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties by telephone Thursday evening, primarily on landlines. The margin of error is 1 percent. The call went out to more than 50,000 households in the region.

It was conducted by Northern Kentucky Opinion, a local polling firm owned by Ken Moellman. The firm conducted polling for several local campaigns in last fall’s elections.

Toll advocates questioned Moellman’s methodology, however, especially the 1 percent margin of error.

“The two polls we’ve done show a very different result from this,” said Matt Davis, head of the Build Our New Bridge Now coalition. “Push polls like this are really not effective in showing a public stance. And this one, specifically, is reckless and dangerous. To suggest that waiting any longer is irresponsible and not in the best interest of our community.”

Although crosstabs and more detailed information about the poll were not available Friday afternoon, Moellman said he’s confident in the poll: “It was a methodology that proved to be accurate in both the primary and the general last year, and I’m confident in it.”

And the results would appear to be in line with other polls: 59 percent of Northern Kentucky AAA members opposed tolls in a 2013 survey, while 58 percent of Northern Kentuckians opposed tolls in a 2012 Enquirer poll.

The $2.4 billion replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge has been in the works for two decades and is strongly backed by the business community as a necessary economic development project. The 51-year-old span carries Interstate 75 and billions in commerce over the Ohio River every year.

Traditionally, the federal government pays for 80 percent of such infrastructure projects, but the federal Highway Trust Fund is running dry. Federal and state authorities have repeatedly said neither Washington nor Frankfort can afford to pay the bulk of the project, and tolls will be needed if the outdated, overcrowded bridge is to be replaced.

The poll also asked Northern Kentuckians’ views on a statewide smoking ban, but those results were not made available Friday. In addition to NKY United, the poll was paid for by the anti-smoking group NKY Choice and the Independent Business Association of Northern Kentucky, which opposes tolls and the smoking ban.

The poll comes as Kentucky lawmakers meet in Frankfort through March 24. Among the items on their agenda: a statewide indoor smoking ban, and a bill to allow public-private partnerships for transportation projects. That measure is viewed by some, especially in Northern Kentucky, as a pathway to tolling.

Read the article online.