Covington KY News: History of tolls in the Covington area
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Road tolls: It's back
to the future


The new bridge crossing the Ohio River and the Brent Spence Bridge will probably charge tolls. Here's a look at some of the toll roads and bridges from our area's past:

The Suspension Bridge was constructed by a private company. Tolls were charged until 1963. Kenton County Public Library photo.


Despite the hurdle placed before it by the Ohio legislature, the Covington & Cincinnati Bridge Company was determined to build the bridge.

In 1856, the company signed John A. Roebling to construct a suspension bridge between Covington and Cincinnati. Construction began that year, but it came to a halt the next year due to the Panic of 1857. As Northern armies invaded the South during the American Civil War, construction resumed.

The actual Covington & Cincinnati Suspension Bridge was formally completed on December 1, 1866. The bridge was 1,619 feet across and cost the company approximately 1.8 million dollars to construct.

To help offset costs, the company established tollbooths on both ends of the bridge and charged three cents per person to walk across it. In the first three days that the bridge was open, approximately 120,000 people walked across the bridge.


The Suspension Bridge was sold to the state of Kentucky in 1953, which continued to charge tolls until the Brent Spence Bridge opened in 1963. Kenton County Public Library photo.


The Covington & Cincinnati Suspension Bridge Company -- a private company -- operated the bridge until the Commonwealth of Kentucky purchased it in 1953 for $4.2 million. The state collected tolls until 1963 when the Brent Spence Bridge was opened on Interstate 75, downstream, approximately 0.6 miles to the west of The Roebling Suspension Bridge. Source: Wikipedia

Versions of the Shortway Bridge charged tolls until the structure was closed for good in 2001. Kenton County Public Library photo.


The Shortway Bridge, which in several incarnations has spanned the Licking River for 109 years, was closed in 2001.

The blue-gray Shortway, also known as the 12th Street Bridge, was largely a local road, with a daily traffic count of 14,000 vehicles in 1998. But by 2020, the number of vehicles is expected to rise to 18,000, according to Greg Kreutzjans, district construction engineer for the transportation cabinet.

The state of Kentucky, which took over the bridge in the 1950s, decided it was time for a replacement. A new four-lane bridge adjacent to it, costing $10.2 million, was constructed. Unlike previous bridges at the site there's no charge for the new one which opened in the fall of 2001.


Bromley-Ludlow tolled bridge. Kenton County Public Library photo.

Little is known about the Ludlow-Bromley Bridge (above) but it, too, charged a toll. Source: Kenton County Public Library


Looks like the Fourth Street Bridge also charged to cross. Kenton County Public Library photo.


The Fourth Street Bridge over the Licking River charged (above, in the fog) because there's the toll booth on the right side of the photo.



The Lexington Pike had toll booths all along its route. Kenton County Public Library photo.


The Lexington Pike, which is today's US 25 / Dixie Highway, was also a private road and charged tolls ... like this booth on the pike near what is now Kyles Lane.


A toll booth in Constance at Hebron Hill Road. Kenton County Public Library photo.


The steep road up Hebron Hill at Constance and points west along the this road along the Ohio River -- also called Pike Street -- charged tolls (above).


Tolls for the new bridge will be done electronically ... no coins needed!


Tolls for the new bridge crossing the Ohio River and perhaps the Brent Spence Bridge will be done electronically, meaning no toll booths. Frequent users will be encouraged to buy pre-paid passes, otherwise cameras will take a photo of your license plate ... and then send you a bill and add a handling fee, to boot.













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