Bridge project proposal to save $500 million - News, Weather & Sports

Bridge project proposal to save $500 million

Michael Sands Michael Sands
John & Nina Layer John & Nina Layer
Mayor Greg Fischer Mayor Greg Fischer
State Sen. Perry Clark State Sen. Perry Clark
Valerie Ollis Valerie Ollis

By Katie Bauer email | bio

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A big announcement was made on Tuesday by Louisville's mayor and Kentucky and Indiana's governors. They announced a plan that will not only to trim the cost of the Ohio River Bridges Project, but also keep certain existing bridges toll-free.

Michael Sands lives in Indiana, but works in Louisville and the possibility of bridge tolls would affect his everyday commute.

"I don't know how much, nobody knows how much, but it would be something that I would have to pay if I want to work in Louisville," said Sands.

Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels are joining forces, proposing the more than $4 billion bridge project be cut $500 million.

"I'm not a big bridge user, but I am looking at it as other people who are, and I'm thinking that it may be something that will go over big," said John Layer, a Louisville resident.

"We got together the week before last to talk about the status of the bridges project," said Fischer. "We absorbed what the community has been telling us."

Their idea is to rebuild Spaghetti Junction where it is instead of shifting it south, make the East End bridge four lanes, instead of six, and complete the Big Four Bridge pedestrian walkway and bike path instead of including them on the downtown bridge.

"We are looking every possible way to reduce the cost and still realize the goals of cross river mobility," said Fischer.

In addition, the leaders say they intend to keep the Sherman Minton and the Clark Memorial Bridges toll-free, a good idea for motorists like Sands.

"It's important to me to get to work everyday, and I come over here for entertainment and all that good stuff, too," said Sands.

It's an issue that also made its way to Frankfort on Tuesday as two Jefferson County Senators took action by filing a bill that would not allow tolls on existing roadways.

"A lot of people don't understand how you can toll pre-existing, prepaid for, infrastructure," said Sen. Perry Clark, a Jefferson County legislator. "It's been done already. We're putting a kabash on that at this point. If we can get the legislation through."

With the possibility of some bridges having tolls and others not, Kentuckiana drivers like Valerie Ollis says many may adjust their route across the river.

"I think people would probably take the Second Street bridge if it wasn't tolled and I-65 was," said Ollis.

The Bridges Authority issued a statement saying the announcement will still allow them to work toward a targeted construction date of August 2012. They will meet on Jan. 6th to discuss it.

(Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.)

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