Will Indiana debacle drive up Brent Spence cost?

The cost of a new Interstate 71/75 Brent Spence Bridge could increase if it's privately financed – fallout from the bankruptcy of a major Indiana tollway this fall.

Wall Street investors, economists and transportation experts told The Enquirer that private investors most likely will be more cautious about structuring a public-private partnership to pay for the $2.6 billion bridge replacement and highway overhaul.

"When something like this happens, all of a sudden, the cost of doing (a similar project) just went up," Miami University economist Jim Brock said. "To get people to invest, you have to pay a higher interest rate. How much? Who knows?"

"There's a lot of concern on the part of investors in terms of taking the risk on future traffic counts," said Joshua Schank, president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. "A lot of these deals were made with the expectation that traffic was going to increase, and it's not growing at the rate people thought it would. In fact, it's declining on a per-capita basis."

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