Kentucky Transportation Cabinet seeks to intervene
Suit by River Fields, National Trust poses danger of delay, higher cost
FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 11, 2011) – To help ensure the Ohio River Bridges Project moves forward, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet today filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit by River Fields and the National Trust for Historic Preservation against the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The two groups are seeking to stop the Bridges Project, in which new bridges to Indiana would be built in downtown Louisville and eastern Jefferson County, and the downtown Kennedy Interchange would be reconstructed.
The lawsuit claims the FHWA failed to properly follow federal law in approving the bi-state project in 2003.
“This lawsuit threatens to delay the project and drive up costs for our citizens,” said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock. “From the standpoint of safety, mobility and cost to taxpayers, Kentucky has a direct and vested interest in the lawsuit's outcome.”
The motion in U.S. District Court in Louisville comes as Kentucky and Indiana are working to complete a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, which could pave the way for construction to begin on the long-awaited project next year.
“Our financial advisors have made it clear that pending litigation will likely drive up the financing costs of the Bridges Project,” Hancock said. “Therefore, eliminating the River Fields lawsuit would help ensure the lowest possible costs for our citizens and lowest possible tolls for users.”
River Fields and the National Trust filed the lawsuit against the FHWA in September 2009. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Indiana Department of Transportation have participated in legal proceedings related to the case but have not been formal parties. The Indiana Department of Transportation filed a similar motion to intervene today.
While FHWA is a partner in the Bridges Project, Kentucky and Indiana are primarily responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of the project, Hancock said. FHWA has a broader interest beyond the Bridges Project in protecting the federal process.
“Our interest is in building the Bridges Project, not necessarily in defending FHWA’s national program priorities,” Hancock said.