LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – On the heels of about a half billion dollars of proposed budget cuts, members of the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority are weighing in on a partnership for the Ohio River Bridges Project.
For those involved in the Ohio River Bridges Project, they say time is the true enemy.
"We just went through the financial plan update and there was $800-million in just inflation alone, so speed is a good thing," said Gary Valentine, Ohio River Bridges Project Manager.
On Tuesday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels proposed cost cutting changes to the project. Those include rebuilding Spaghetti Junction where it is, rather than shifting it south, and reducing the East End Bridge from six lanes to four.
With these recommendations came some safety concerns from board members.
"My big issue right now is Spaghetti Junction because every time you drive through there you take your life in your hands, as you are trying to get across lanes," said Jerry Finn, Bridges Authority Board Member.
"We won't look at any improvement, neither transportation agency, without considering the safety impacts," said Valentine.
The three elected leaders also urged to keep the Sherman Minton and Clark Memorial Bridges toll-free, but whether or not the Kennedy Bridge will have tolls is still up in the air, because the roadway has already been paid for. The bridge will turn into south bound traffic only, and it will see major rehabilitation.
"I'm very optimistic that it will be part of the project, but remember even if it's not you can still adjust that if you think of the math calculation, you would pay a toll one way that may be higher," said Kerry Stemler, Co-chair of the Bridges Authority.
This project is expected to create more than 2000 jobs per year during construction and nearly 1000 jobs each year after it's finished. Numbers Stemler says he would like to see doubled by speeding up construction.
"It would give us two things, one, we would put more people to work and another we would get the project done faster as well as save that money that we continue to talk about that inflation is eating away at," said Stemler.
Next month Louisville will host a two day industry forum in hopes of learning more cost savings ideas for the project. They are expecting contractors and developers from all over the world to attend the event. It is scheduled for Feb. 16 and 17, but the location is yet to be determined.
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