I'm not sure what this will mean for the Ohio River Bridges Project. Check back for updates.
8664 is a Louisville transportation advocacy organization.
Let us be clear, 8664 enthusiastically supports public transit.
And we support a pedestrian and bike-friendly city with better transportation planning.
But as Jackie Green noted in his April 4 letter to the editor, we do not support KTAP's effort to stop the Ohio River Bridges Project. Unlike River Fields, a founding member of KTAP, we feel the East End Bridge has been delayed for too long.
If we've learned anything from the 40-year debate about building a bridge, it should be that we need to prioritize. The "two bridges, one project" idea is flawed and will only delay the entire project. While the idea of doing nothing is appealing to those that oppose the East End bridge, it will only hurt Louisville in the long run.
It is a fact that the majority of citizens in this region support building a bridge across the Ohio River. Likewise, it is clear that the majority of people prefer an eastern bridge to complete the I-265 beltway. So our current priority is to complete this automotive connection so we can move on to other important community issues.
We want to fix Spaghetti Junction. We want to reconnect with the West End. We want to build the most spectacular waterfront park in the country. We want to unite the region around a vibrant downtown. And again, we want to invest in public transit.
But first, we need to build the East End Bridge.
The legislative session is over. Now it's time to figure out what the heck happened.
The Bridges are supposed to get $231 million, roughly $56 million from the last budget cycle and $175 million of new funds. It now appears that this 'life-support funding' will either come from federal dollars otherwise slated for Kentucky's roads or Kentucky debt. The governor makes the call on that.
The next step is to ensure that the state doesn't take on intractable amounts of debt to pay for bridges that will never be completed. Instead it must go on an austerity diet and cut other road projects. This will grow the coalition opposing the Bridges project.
Finally, check out Phil's insights on Indiana's role in all this.
Note: This was published in the April 1 C-J
In January Kentuckiana Transportation Action Partnership, a coalition of 25 citizen organizations and businesses, went to Frankfort with a specific message for legislators - "the financial plan of the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project is unrealistic". The Senate and the House both responded with new funding legislation. The new “Creative Financing” plans are equally unrealistic. The public is not going to accept tolling one, two or all bridges, higher vehicle registration fees ($30-$40 increases), higher local gas taxes, higher sales taxes, insurance taxes, higher property taxes, hotel room taxes, car rental taxes, local taxing districts, private development financial participation, and public borrowing (bonds and bond secured grants).
The Bridges Project not only ignores funding realities, but it also fails to address broader financial/economic concerns. It ignores the energy and environmental realities of the 21st Century. Nor does it address the needs of all people, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Editor: The following has been accepted for publication in the C-J:
8664 is a distraction. 8664 focuses on a financially unrealistic investment in automotive infrastructure. It steals focus from advancing a regional public transit system as an option to bridges. It must stop.
On March 31 the Courier-Journal published an article by the leadership of 8664. The article began with: "For three years we have promoted a positive solution to address the region's transportation and economic needs". This statement is far from the truth. For three years 8664 has promoted a narrow vision of transportation by cars and trucks only. There is nothing positive about speeding cars and trucks along surface streets through our riverfront - even if you try to sell those surface roads as "parkways". More motor vehicles on surface streets only endanger more motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. The 8664 vision is not positive, nor is it a solution for regional transportation.
Anonymous Source writes:
I have looked at the supplemental spending bill. The legislature authorized $231 million in GARVEE bonds: this total includes $56 million in authorization left from this (2008) fiscal year and $175 million for fiscal years 09 and 10. This is essentially putting the project payments on a credit card for the next two years; paying for interest in the meantime out of KY federal highway dollars; and pledging future (uncertain) KY federal highway dollars to repay the debt.
Now is the time to act on Bridges Funding!
Call your State Senator and State Representative to let them know that the Ohio River Bridges Project is too expensive for its dubious benefits. Money should instead be set aside for unglamorous yet long-overdue road maintenance and public transportation.