A federal appeals court is upholding the dismissal of a lawsuit related to the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges project.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled unanimously that the organization that brought the lawsuit failed to prove that Kentucky and Indiana violated federal law. The group Coalition for Advancement of Regional Transportation—or CART—filed suit against the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the Indiana Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration.
The group claimed the $2.6 billion dollar bridges project would cause environmental damage by clearing trees and harming wildlife and water quality along the two spans' proposed routes. The suit also said the project violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act by negatively impacting minority communities where construction would occur.
CART’s lawsuit had been previously dismissed by U.S District Judge John G. Heyburn. The group appealed, setting up the showdown at the federal appeals court level.
The Ohio River bridges project includes the creation of a new bridge for I-65 north, the renovation of the Kennedy Memorial bridge that carries I-65 south, and a new bridge that will connect the Gene Snyder Freeway with the Lee Hamilton Highway in southern Indiana.
A committee of Kentucky and Indiana officials has approved toll rates for the Ohio River Bridges Project after years of research and debate.
The bi-state tolling body unanimously approved toll rates Wednesday of one to twelve dollars, depending on vehicle size and mode of crossing.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock says despite some strong opposition to tolling, they’re necessary to pay for the new End East and downtown bridges and reworking of Spaghetti Junction.
“This is where we wound up after months and months of intense studies so we’re comfortable that it’s certainly not going to be palatable to everyone but it’s an environment in which we can be successful," said Hancock.
Two regional business owners addressed the tolling body Wednesday. Both requested the states consider a discount for large trucks that will bear the highest costs.
But Hancock says the set rates are comparable to national averages.
After delaying action on toll rates for the Ohio River Bridges Project last week, the bi-state committee in charge of setting rates will meet Wednesday to finish the job.
It was a surprise to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock last week, when Indiana officials said they weren’t ready to approve tolls.
Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said the delay shouldn’t be considered opposition to the suggested tolls rates, ranging from one to twelve dollars. He said it was just a matter of getting paperwork together.
Hancock was concerned though, and said Kentucky needs to set toll rates to find investors for its portion of the project’s cost.
“As interest rates go up obviously over a 35 year term of a financing deal that amounts to serious money, whether that’s millions I’m quite sure probably is," said Hancock.
The project managers for a new Ohio River bridge between Indiana and Kentucky say makeshift homeless camps in the new span's path need to be moved soon.
Indiana and Kentucky officials told members of the Jeffersonville-Clarksville Homelessness Task Force on Thursday that the homeless residents need to be moved so crews can clear land for the new bridge's ramps.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet project manager Andy Barber told the panel it's unsafe for people to be in the construction zone without protective equipment.
The Courier-Journal reports Walsh Construction project manager Blake Morris told task force members crews planned to begin clearing land near one camp area late this week.
Task force member the Rev. Jim Moon says homeless advocates "need a little more time than that."
Transportation officials from Kentucky and Indiana told Louisville Metro Council members that construction on two new bridges over the Ohio River is projected to start at nearly the same time next summer.
The Courier-Journal reports that Indiana Department of Transportation project manager Ron Heustis said he expects construction on the eastern bridge, which will link Utica, Ind., and Prospect, Ky., to start in June.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet project manager Andy Barber says he expects construction on the downtown span, which will connect Louisville, Ky., and New Albany, Ind., to begin in July.
A group that opposes two new planned Ohio River bridges is asking a judge to force Indiana and Kentucky to halt spending on the projects. The Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation made the request in a motion seeking an injunction filed Wednesday in Louisville, Ky.
The long-awaited project to build two new Ohio River bridges in the Louisville, Ky., area is reaching a milestone on the Indiana side. The governors of Indiana and Kentucky are scheduled to attend a Thursday groundbreaking for the project that has been discussed for decades. Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez is also expected to attend the event in Jeffersonville.
Kentucky and Indiana are announcing that federal approval has been obtained for a new environmental impact statement on the Ohio River Bridges Project. The supplemental FEIS was required after state leadership in both Kentucky and Indiana agreed to modifications that helped reduce the cost of the project by $1.5 billion.