Indiana, Kentucky Will Seek Federal Approval To Begin Building Bridges Project Next Year
Review of updated construction proposal to include cost-saving ideas, limited tolling; draft complete for public comment by summer
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 14, 2011) – Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock and Indiana Commissioner of Transportation Mike Cline today announced they will update the construction proposal for the Ohio River Bridges Project and seek federal approval to begin construction in 2012.
The two states, working with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), will update the original construction proposal with new information – including proposed cost-saving options and limited tolling scenarios – under a federally prescribed process known as a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).
The two states plan to present the draft SEIS to the FHWA by summer. A public comment period will follow the FHWA review and a final document could be completed by December.
The update will focus on changes that could have environmental impacts that were not evaluated in the original Environmental Impact Statement process, which led to the 2003 Record of Decision. The update will evaluate the cost-saving approaches recommended by the two governors and Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher:
• Rebuilding the Kennedy Interchange in the existing location rather than move it south
• Reducing the East End bridge, roadway and tunnel from six lanes to four lanes, with the option to add two lanes later if traffic demand warrants
• Removing the proposed pedestrian and bike path from the design of a new downtown I-65 bridge as a result of a separate project to complete the Big Four Bridge pedestrian walkway and bike path
The review will also consider the impact of collecting tolls on the new and improved I-65 bridges downtown and the new East End bridge.
The update will continue the extensive public involvement process that has been a hallmark of the Bridges Project. Citizens will be invited to offer their input on the proposals being considered in the SEIS review.
The update process will move forward on a parallel track with the work of the Louisville-Southern Indiana Bridges Authority, which is developing a proposal to close the financing gap to fund the project.
The Bridges Authority, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation are co-hosting an industry innovation forum this week to showcase the Bridges Project and explore creative approaches to project development. More than 700 people in the construction and financing industries have registered to attend.
Once the updated construction proposal for the Bridges Project receives federal approval in early 2012, the states will be on track to begin contracting and construction in the second half of 2012.