Rendering of East End Bridge (via ORBP)
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Rendering of East End Bridge (via ORBP)
Rendering of East End Bridge. (via ORBP)

The Courier-Journal just broke the news that River Fields, a group opposing the East End Bridge in favor of a Downtown-only option, has co-filed a lawsuit with the National Trust for Historic Preservation claiming that Federal approval of the Ohio River Bridges Project in the Record of Decision is not valid.

Here’s a quote from the C-J:

The groups claim the federal government didn’t justify its selection of a two-bridge project; relied on misleading information on the need for an eastern Jefferson County bridge; failed to adequately consider possible impacts, such as construction delays and the effects on nearby historic properties; and failed to prepare an updated environmental report.

And it alleges that the government’s approval of the project and the eastern bridge route was ‘arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion’ and in violation of the federal Department of Transportation Act.

Can’t say this move was completely unexpected, but it certainly came down to the wire with only two days remaining to file suit. We’ll have more on the unfolding story later and what it means for the proposal and the Ohio River Bridges Project overall.

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Branden Klayko


  1. Are these groups who would like to see a Downtown Bridge saying that the historic sites that will be affected in the East End are somehow more important than the ones in the downtown neighborhoods such as Butchertown? I know it is only part of the argument, but just curious. And to think, at least in my understanding of the situation, we gave up pursuit of a Light Rail project for the debacle that is the Bridges Project. Sad.

  2. River Fields is the biggest obstructionist to this project. If anything needs to happen, especially for historic preservation, is an East End bridge only and scrapping the downtown option. There is one house in the East End that could possibly be affected. It wouldn’t have to be destroyed (unlike the properties downtown), but its backyard would be affected.

    Plus, their interference with the single-lane bridge repairs is an attempt to constrict a vital construction route to the East End bridge site.

    I’m guessing RF gets most its funding from the Glenview clans who do not want the East End bridge. That is a sad reason for fighting it. This region needs more fluid movement across the river. It would open up so much economic opportunity. But, those who already have “theirs” don’t worry about that.

  3. That the National Trust has signed on with a band of hypocrites who have for years favored the destruction of numerous historic properties as mentioned is an embarrassment for legitimate preservationists and the country.

  4. Why aren’t more people living near Cherokee Park up in arms about what is possibly coming their way if I-64 is reconfigured along with spaghetti junction?

    Has there been a study done to see what would be expected to happen to property values near the East End Bridge? I mean a real study with reputable data backing it up and not some wild assumptions. I would be interested in knowing what that research would uncover.

    The whole business of the bridges project bothers me because we are not being leveled with here. Perhaps there is some rational reason that there is such a push back to 86-64, such as maybe not wanting to piss off some of the big industry in town who rely on the ability to cut through the middle of our city to get to points beyond as efficiently as possible. Depending on ones view, this could be a very logical reason not to look more deeply into such a proposal. But I wish someone would just come out and say, “I know that 86-64 and other ideas of this kind appear to make a lot of sense and in many ways do, but if we took out the highway, we would be jeopardizing thousands of jobs to accomplish this and if we loose those jobs, who is going to be left to enjoy the reconnection to the river?”

  5. Patrick, the Mayor has said that numerous times. He claims we are, now, a choke point for the region, which isn’t good since we are a logistics hub. But, the bridges are hugely political. The sensible option is building an east end span, connecting the insitu infrastructure, and then examining need. But, politics wouldn’t let that happen.

  6. Excuse me…….im tired of hearing about future economic opportunities when those who currently drive the Kennedy daily are going to have to foot the major part of the burden by paying tolls not once but twice daily. Whats right about that? May l remind all supporters of the Bridges project that most commuters, travelling 65S or 65N are already paying taxes in the state of Kentucky and when the bridges are available for everyone’s use at anytime why must the majority of the financial burden fall on so few? Again, what’s fair about that? Times are hard now…..everything is rocketing up in price while the economy is declining. I believe the supporters of the project aren’t concerned about the added hardships of the daily commuters.
    Im not against improvements just the current plan to fund it. Why shouldn’t the community, on both sides of the river, share more of the expense in an effort to even out the cost?
    Commuters use the bridge daily because they have no choice….the present bridges have been paid for already. The next time a bridge supporter claims this opens up future economic opportunities remember….while its denying current economic opportunities for many that’s going to be unfairly burdened with tolls.

  7. @jean lewis – What makes you think someone who DOES NOT use the bridge should subsidize your use of it? If you think about that real hard, you will see that they shouldn’t. And don’t use “need” as a reason. If “need” is a justification of receiving any good/service, it is impossible to allocate limited resources to unlimited needs. The only choice you should have (morally at least) is between using the bridge, and rightfully paying for your use, or not using it.

  8. Patrick..first this is not a moral issue. This is a community issue…..unfortunately involving politicians that want to find the easiest way to fund their project. Whether you like it or not…..all the bridges, current or future, are here for your use whether you choose it or not. Once again……the current bridges have been paid for in full and it’s not fair to burden a small group of commuters for a project that’s slated to bring future economic opportunities to the entire surrounding community……including you Patrick.

  9. There is a very simple solution to this issue. Toll only the new bridges … if you want to use them to avoid traffic, and most people would I suspect, then you pay for that luxury. Very simple, very fair. End of discussion.

  10. It’s a good thought, Karl, but one problem: Under the current proposal, the new downtown bridge and the Kennedy Bridge would each be one-way bridges. Which means people who have to commute back and forth on I-65 would be forced to pay a toll at least one way, even if only the new bridges were tolled.

  11. Well, I just cut their cost in half at least! Or, there’s always I-64, 2nd Street, or the Big Four (walk or bike) for free.

    Why our community would not want truckers and vacatioers to pay the majority of the cost for these new bridges is beyond me … I’m pretty sure I have helped fund roads and bridges throughout Pennsylvania, Florida, California, New York, Illinois, West Virginia, etc. etc.

  12. If they toll the east end bridge the way they are planning to virtually no out of town traveler will use it. Travelers will pay the highest tolling rate $2 plus an administrative fee, a minimum of $5 the first time they cross. So out of town travelers will be charged $7 to use the east end bridge (that’s assuming we can collect with a bill in the mail, the track record says that about half will pay). Also a tolled east end bridge means that it will not be legally possible to require non-local trucks, including haz-mat, to bypass the city, the #1 reason for a bypass.

  13. I don’t care about the “current proposal,” I am making general statements about tolling. My #1 reason for a bypass is to connect a broken link and ease downtown congestion in the process … cleaner city air is a positive externality in this case. Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of Opportunity Cost? Most people (vacationers and truckers included) will pay the toll to have a lower opportunity cost of time, it is a sound economic principle. Of course, if a person has more time than money, he or she may choose to sit in traffic and save the value of the toll.

  14. To the people of River Fields, I offer a heartfelt FU! Everybody grab a shovel, lets start diggin that b***h up ourselves.

  15. I live in Indiana and worked in Kentucky for most of my life. I have traveled all of the bridges. Over the last 20 years, there has been a significant increase in traffic. I remember being able to go across the bridge and never be backed up in traffic. Now, you are lucky to get across without some sort of back up. To me, this is valid proof that we have more traffic and need another option to cross the river. I prefer the East End bridge first as it would attach the current I-265 over the river. I think the economy would also benefit because I know many of us in Indiana would be able to reach East End shopping areas much faster and easier. There are also many people who work in the East End of Louisville. It just makes sense. Now that the Sherman Minton is closed, we really could use another option. It’s time we move forward and build another bridge.

  16. The 2010 Wilbur-SMith tolling study clearly indicates that most non-local traffic will choose the free option, the Sherman-Minton bridge, when we toll the other 2/3rds of our interstate system. In their 2010 statistical regression model they are using a Value Of Time that is %66 percent higher than was used for the high-end VOT in a 2009 D.C. metro area study by the same company. In fact they are not even including the 1-time $7-12 administrative fee in their model. This incompetent tolling study actually predicts the same amount of river crossings in 2030, with 5 bridges, under a $3 toll and a toll-free scenario. That fails the common sense test. The recent closing of the Sherman-Minton Bridge should put an end to the full toll-funded Ohio River Bridges Project. This bridge clearly cannot handle carrying the bulk of our regions cross river traffic for the next 50 years. Very few travelers will utilize the east end bridge if they are hit with a 1-time $7-12 administrative fee and a $2-3 toll. Even tractor-trailers will choose the free alternatives (Watterson and Downtown for I-64 traffic) much of the time. Virtually all I-65 traffic will choose the western bypass in a post 2/3rds tolling scenario. That will make the toll-revenues come in low and rates will have to rise causing further diversions. The contract that the highway manager/toll collector contractor signs will have to include the right to toll additional points within Spaghetti Junction.

  17. With the current issue of the Sherman Minton Bridge and additional stress on the Kennedy Bridge, Kentucky should invoke the right of domain just as it was done with the Airport Expansion Project. This is not only creating havoic on commuters to and from Kentucky and Indiana, but is a major infrastructure issue for transporting goods. As in many other cities around the country, the historical building can be moved to allow progress and the future growth of our community. What I find to be most disturbing is that the people supporting the River Fields debate are some of the “leaders” in this community. It’s time to show and demonstrate your leadership abilities and allow progress to move foward. If not, maybe it’s time for new leadership!

  18. Completely agree with Bryan. This is affecting our community as a whole and not just individuals who cross the bridge. This is affecting business owners – this will cause individuals to decide not to cross the bridge to shop, eat, etc. This is causing additional pollution. This is causing additional money to be spent on gas. This is affecting the quality of life for many who must now commute several hours a day. This is a real problem. I don’t see how anyone can say another bridge is just not a necessity at this point.

  19. Note ‘the entire community is realizing the affect’.
    Well since this a community problem…..the entire community should be willing to share the expense of building the new bridges instead of unloading the responsibility on the backs’ of daily commuters.

  20. We are facing the most important transportation crisis in our community for decades and Brokensidewalk is silent. Louisville is at a crossroads and We must demand a transportation network that reflects the will of the people and moves people somewhat efficiently. We cannot allow the undemocratic, economically detrimental and socially unjust downtown Ohio River Bridge Project to be built. Under the flawed tolling plan the vast majority of bypass traffic will continue to drive through the densest parts of our city. Prevent the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century. Save Louisville.

  21. It’s just a bunch of whiney rich people who don’t want more traffic in their neighborhood, they’re moronic for even suggesting a downtown only option, downtown is already choking on road.