What a mess.
What a mess.
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What a mess.
What a mess. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

It’s been a little while since we have talked about that slow moving disaster ready to stamp out so much progress being made in Louisville. I am, of course, describing the Ohio River Bridges Project. In an effort to bring Broken Sidewalk up to date with what’s been going on, here’s a rundown of a few major events. Did I miss anything?

What a mess.
What a mess. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
  • We left off in September, 2009 after learning that River Fields had filed a lawsuit against the East End Bridge. Check out that story and all our previous coverage of the bridges issue in our archives.
  • September 2009: Tunnel for the East End Bridge approach in jeopardy. Removing the tunnel could open the Record of Decision (ROD)
  • October 2009: Governor Steve Beshear appoints 11 Kentuckians to the newly created Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority. The KPTIA is an entity that can enter into bi-state agreements for mega-projects like the ORBP and can create bi-state authorities to determine financing (read: tolls) for such projects. The KPTIA votes to create a bi-state authority to oversee the ORBP. Without any real progress on the project, Beshear calls the vote “historic.” Eight days later, Beshear and Abramson appoint seven people to the Kentucky side of the authority. No Metro Council members were appointed despite a request from the body.
  • November 2009: Bob Hill pens an incisive piece for Louisville magazine:

“I began going to the public bridge meetings with Daniel Boone. Everyone was very nice; we were asked to vote on the designs we liked best, and then 14 bi-state officials and politicians locked themselves in a room and made the final decisions. In Indiana, developers were selling land and houses to people the developers knew would be in the path of the bridge. In Kentucky, one of the main arguments against the bridge became that it would help create jobs in Indiana—a fine example of upscale regional thinking. Meanwhile, some of the bridge-path land the environmentalists were supposed to be saving was being eaten up with new houses— many of them oversized, hey-look-at-me, energy-eating monstrosities.”

  • Property acquisition begins in downtown Jeffersonville and in Utica, Indiana and the Baer Fabrics building and several properties in the east end are secured for destruction as well. A projected completion date of 2020 probably won’t be met.
  • The Federal Highway Administration requests that a lawsuit brought by River Fields is moved from Washington DC to a Kentucky court.
  • LEO publishes a major article on River Fields questioning the politics and obstructionism of the conservation group and River Fields allegedly pulls the issues from news stands before they can be read (video) and threaten LEO with a lawsuit.
  • 8664 reminds us of how the Downtown Bridge component was added to the ORBP in 1994.
  • December 2009: Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels appoints members to the Indiana side of the bi-state authority for the ORBP.
  • Beshear issues $100 million in bonds for the project and announces it’s time to “Start your engines.” Bonds are to be used for property acquisition in Kentucky.
  • The price for the $4.1 billion project hasn’t been updated in almost two years even though Federal rules specify a revised finance plan each fall.
  • WFPL reports that Louisville will fail to meet the requirements of the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement calling for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2012. It’s estimated that 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Louisville are caused by transportation.
  • A Federal judge approves the FHA request that the River Fields lawsuit be moved to a Kentucky court.
  • Gov. Beshear admits that Kentucky is facing up to a $1.5 Billion budget shortfall for 2011-12.
  • Federal funding is about to be cut to local transportation projects because no financing plan is in place for the ORBP.
  • January 2010: By mid-January, the ORBP bi-state authority still hasn’t met despite an anticipated first meeting in December. The authority has until December 2010 to determine a financing plan. Mayor Abramson is skeptical that Federal rules will be enforced cutting local transportation funding.
  • February 2010: The ORBP bi-state authority finally has its first meeting with no real progress (by-laws are approved, a staff is hired, and a schedule set) and was largely rushed to avoid public outcry over inaction. As usual, a non-step is declared “historic” by Beshear & Abramson.
  • The projected completion date is now 2024 but no one really knows for sure and politicians throw out random numbers. Beshear: “We want this done as fast as possible. I don’t know what that means, but to me , it means faster than ten years.”
  • Jeffersonville wants to bail out Louisville for not having a funding mechanism and Councilman Ron Grooms admits that “The majority of Indiana residents don’t want to pay tolls.”
  • The C-J‘s misguided editorial board lashes out at political hopefuls who want to build an East End Bridge first (basically all of them) and requisite backlash ensues from Tyler Allen who delivers an address in front of the Courier-Journal‘s Broadway headquarters.
  • The N & T declares that 8664 is not dead. The bi-state authority meets again and actually talks about financing but only in a superficial way without any solutions.
  • KIPDA seeks exemption from Federal rules that would cut funding to local projects because a financing plan for the ORBP is still unknown.
  • Congressman Yarmuth meets with US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood to ask about funding options.
  • Several trucks overturn on local highways including one carrying onions on Spaghetti Junction reminding us that a new Junction will still face delays and shut-downs from bad drivers.
  • Indiana authorizes the use of public-private partnerships to be used for the ORBP meaning a private company would build the highway and charge tolls to use it.
  • March 2010Toll Road News finds the political claims that the ORBP will create jobs “discouraging:”

“Most discouraging is the nonsense spouted by some of the champions of these projects. Senator Ed Charbonneau (Repub) for example called the bill “the jobs bill of this session” claiming it will “create 30,000 jobs.”

“Such enthusiasm is touching, but road projects are not to “create jobs.” If they were we’d ban all machinery and have all the work done with picks and shovels.

“These projects are to serve motorists by saving them time and travel expense and they have to be judged by the financial viability – whether they can attract sufficient in toll payments by motorists to support the costs—which have to minimized with the optimum mix of labor and equipment, not with “job creation” in mind.”

  • ORBP bi-state authority says it won’t consider tolls on the Second Street / Clark Memorial Bridge but says all other bridges are fair game meaning the oldest bridge carrying auto-traffic in the city will now be the most congested. Some on the authority call for a study of tolling Spaghetti Junction. Any toll would require a Federal exemption and per Fed rule, no current bridge can be tolled unless it is reconstructed.
  • Bi-state authority plans to hire an “advisory team” with potentially an investment bank like Goldman Sachs represented to study financing options. It could be a way to pass the buck for the unpopular notion of tolling the bridges. Approval from the KY General Assembly is first required. Officials from Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase attended the ORBP bi-state authority meeting.
  • Anti-toll groups emerging on the Internet (Facebook here and here)
  • Traffic in Maryland is slow to recover meaning toll revenues are drastically down and rate hikes are imminent. Could the same thing happen to Kentucky toll roads?
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Branden Klayko


  1. Thanks for the fantastic update. Kind of makes me want to do a complete anthology of related posts on LouHI.

    Anyway, the Burned Bridge article on LEO makes me think back to my own response to it: “Should ‘fair minds’ say ‘River Fields needs to just stop it!’?” — http://www.historyandissues.org/louisville/viewtopic.php?t=1623

    Is the pattern as clear to everyone else as it is to me? River Fields ratcheted up the bridges project in extreme ways in hopes that one day it would all implode, preventing the construction of the East End Bridge. And what’s not as clear is when the next stopper designed by RF will appear, even though we’re being presented the Potemkin Village version of progress a la the Bi-state Bridges Authority.

  2. It seems pretty obvious to build an East End bridge first and observe the impact that it would have on downtown. Perhaps the reduced traffic would leave half of this project unnecessary. If you have an doubt about whether traffic coming from Lexington and headed for St. Louis would prefer a bypass loop then simply head North toward Indy and observe what happens at exit 106. Through truck drivers do not want to ride through downtown anywhere. I work in New Albany with several folks who live in Crestwood…they would generally kill to have an East End Bridge available. I recently went that way during afternoon rush hour and it is awful.

    It is so obvious what is at play here. Everyone knows that if we needed another bridge through 40210, 40211, or 40212 we would already be driving on it. It would be nice to see this obstructionism halted for good.

  3. But the flip side is the River Fields lawsuits are preventing the larger disaster from occurring, right? I also think an East End bridge makes sense but don’t want to see the rest of the intended ORBP implented. It’s one thing to say traffic flow ought to be reviewed after the construction of the East End bridge and another to actually consider it and determine whether the remainder of the project should be completed. All that to say, I’m not convinced ‘the deciders’ would properly review the situation if the EE bridge were built.

  4. The keys are to 1) ensure the East End Bridge is completed first; 2) ensure that we have changed the local leaders/legislators by the time of its completion. I can’t guarantee fresh thinking and a call to action at that point, but I think it’s the best option we’ve got. Of course we shouldn’t hope for the project costs to explode, but their exploding has a significant probability.

    Of course, this only comes into play if it’s not all still mired up in River Fields lawsuits over the next several years, which it will be if RF gets its way.

  5. Has everyone involved in the ORBP gone completely mad? I just don’t understand the idea of tolling the roads that are suppose to make KY-IN more connected. I am not an economics guru, but from what I remember in school, location theory comes into play here and there are going to be some serious losers and very few winners if tolls are implemented. It seems businesses and people would be more likely to move to whichever side of the river was more beneficial to them and would take into account the toll into that equation. I originally thought we were trying to promote our logistical hub status, but it seems counterintuitive to toll the connections that shipping need to use, slowing traffic and costing a great deal of additional fees to corporations like UPS. This has to be one of the dumbest initiatives I have experienced since I moved here eleven years ago.

  6. A toll on the east end bridge (probably $3 to $5 and more for trucks) only would result in much of the traffic choosing to come downtown. Also, it seems like it would be impossible for Louisville to require through trucks, especially hazardous cargo, to bypass the city. This scenario would eliminate some the benefits of an east end bridge. If the downtown portion of the ORBP is built I’m out of here.

  7. The whole idea that we need more bridges is absurd, when all three bridges operate with extra unused capacity for 21 hours of every day. We don’t need any new bridges, all we need to do is put a peak-hours toll the existing bridges we have. Instead of peak hour commuters paying a time tax and an air-quality tax, they will now have a choice – shift their travel to off-peak, or pay the cash-tax.

    Whenever you give away something valuable for free, you’re going to have profligate consumption. Bridge capacity during rush hour is valuable. Make people pay for it. The rest of the time we have excess capacity! So make that free.

    All this facebook whining about tolls is moral midgetry. If you want something valuable, you should be prepared to pay for it. Crossing a mile-wide river is a big deal. Of course, the tolls on building no bridges will be infinitesimal compared to the tolls on building one or two bridges. So how much is that extra useless capacity worth to ya? Didn’t think so.

  8. @ Dave. “moral midgetry”- Really? As the creator of one of those facebook groups, I assume that’s directed at me and I have some rebuttal:

    1) The need for an East-end bridge is not absurd if you:
    a) commute either to or from the eastern part of our region
    b) are a truck-driver driving through that wants to by-pass downtown
    c) give a damn about economic development in the region
    d) learned how to draw a circle in kindergarten.
    2) People that have jobs (most people that use bridges) can’t shift their bridge-use to off-peak hours. They, um, have to be at work at a certain time.
    3) People are prepared to pay for valuable bridges, and they already have paid for them. The costs of the three existing Ohio River bridges in our region have long since been paid for with taxes our parents paid.
    4) There’s no more “demand” for another downtown bridge, than there is for the tunnel beneath the Drumanard Estate. The demand for both those ideas, incidentally, are works of fiction created by Riverfield’s in their obstructionist plot to sabotage the EEB. Apparently they have enlisted you as well, now. Nice.
    5) I dare you to use the term “useless capacity” after midnight in any bar in Charlestown, Ind. If you’re feeling Rambo, throw in “moral midgetry,” too.

  9. Agree with some of your points, Curtis, but I would have Dave’s back in the hypothetical Charlestown bar.

    Overall efficiency is pretty damn low. And the current scot-free, “profligate consumption” is right on the money.

    I am for an EEB and a commonsense hollistic congestion pricing scheme for the city’s interstates/bridges, but against any more damage downtown. And, frankly, I don’t feel too sorry for “poor commuters”. It’s not everyone’s responsibility to help subsidize a chosen suburban location/living arrangement.

  10. Hi Curtis, pleased to meet you. This is an interesting debate, so please don’t take it personally.

    As to your points:

    1) The need for an East End bridge does encourage development – the autocentric development that we’ve got a ton of here already. If you want that kind of development, just move to one of the lovely automotive slums our great city has to offer. Just to pick [on] one at random, consider lovely Poplar Level Road around I-264 and enjoy!
    2) True, *most* people with 8-5 jobs can’t shift their commute times. That’s actually off topic. The point is that *some* people can shift their driving times, they’re just not willing to do it right now because we’re giving away this roadway space for free. Charge some pittance toll, and they’ll find another way to get across. Remember, a shift of a few percent in load can lead to a doubling of throughput. Now if you work as a fry cook, you’ll find that its maybe not cost effective to drive to work at rush hour in a single occupancy vehicle. If you work at a blue or white collar job, you’ll find that its still cost effective, and in fact the time you save on your commute will net give you more money for less overhead. Cost cues help society better allocate their resources.
    3) True, the capital cost of the existing bridges is paid for. However, if these get seriously congested, tolling is the smart way of dealing with it. Building extra capacity is the stupid way of dealing with it, because we’ll create more drivers and be back where we started in a few years. Right now the bridges are not seriously congested – at least they didn’t appear on a recent study of the top 100 bottlenecks in the nation. From that I infer that the ORBP is hyping the problem. I’m shocked, shocked!
    4) We agree that an additional highway bridge downtown is a terrible idea. You also appear to believe the 8664-Leo smear on River Fields. The fact is this: River Fields is the only organization with the balls to challenge the obviously broken ORBP plan in court. 8664 has instead opted for a more cowardly and dangerous approach, which is to hope that we run out of money precisely when the east end bridge is complete, and the downtown bridge is not done. That’s a big gamble, because we might run out of money either before or after that point, and we might put burdensome tolls everywhere to pay for them. RF’s strategy to overturn the Record of Decision is the socially responsible plan. 8664’s strategy is, in my opinion, reckless.

  11. Dave, this is an interesting debate (and a great site, seriously Branden K. you have done a great job with BS and when things get slow on the site it makes for a slo-o-o-w day at work). Below is what the CJ (via BS) wrote about the RF lawsuit:
    “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.”
    First, I am not a lawyer nor do I have much beyond a common knowledge of the field. However, it does seem the points raised by RF are largely specific to not wanting the EE Bridge built which the 8664 plan is not opposed to. Now, there may be other issues which 8664 could have filed a suit about (perhaps the lack of an updated enviro report?) but I’m not aware of them; maybe you are? Also, in the world of decency and reason I think 8664 did have a very good approach insofar as they assumed that by presenting a better plan it would be adopted by the other decent and reasonable people in charge of the ORBP. Of course, that isn’t the world we live in, the proposal was given only superficial consideration and, as I mentioned several comments ago, thank god for general govt. incompetency and the RF lawsuits for at least temporarily halting this nightmare. The EE bridge strikes me as good option in conjunction with the rest of the 8664 plan in that it diverts thru traffic.
    I appreciate your argument that sprawl is one of the worst defining characteristics of Louisville and the EE Bridge will probably exacerbate it but if it is built as part of the 8664 plan there will be a larger incentive to not contribute to sprawl- the chance to live in a downtown that has an accessible waterfront park, plenty of development potential, and the opportunity to look up and see the sky rather than a tangle of elevated roads. It is difficult to overestimate the value people place on quality of life. Louisville is at a crossroads right now and the decisions made about this project will allow people to gauge whether Louisville is open to new ideas and interested in promoting the well being of area residents or whether the city has ignored positive development in cities across the world and carries on with a plan solely because it has been the plan for decades and $210 million has been spent on it. Louisville needs a rebirth not the nail in the coffin ORBP as planned represents.

  12. My understanding is that this suit’s success would lead to the overturning of the Record of Decision. In that case the entire ORBP does a massive reset, and we start the planning process again from the beginning. Maybe, this time, we can take a real look at 8664. Or a real public transit option. Maybe we do decide to go ahead on the east end bridge only. But the outcome would be planned, and not a freeze frame when we run out money. I view that as superior strategy, even if I like RF’s favorite bridge less.

  13. So as the saying goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    Quick question, Dave: What are your thoughts on the truck traffic potentially diverted by an East End Bridge?

    I also think its awfully short sighted to not include even the ROW for a future transit line on either bridge. Combine that with the proposal to eliminate pedestrian facilities on the Downtown bridge because the Big Four is kind of nearby.

  14. “What are your thoughts on the truck traffic potentially diverted by an East End Bridge?”

    I don’t think about it much, to be honest.

    Big trucks are driven by professional drivers with a more rigorous licensing process, and (I seem to recall) they have a dramatically lower crash rate than Joe Commuter. Joe Commuter likes to spread the blame for traffic crashes to out-groups, and truckers make handy scapegoats. The dominant traffic safety risk for highways is operator error committed by car drivers, so moving trucks to one bridge over another will only improve the perception of safety, right?

  15. I can agree on the safety issues you point out. I have seen my share of aggressive truck drivers but a likely much higher rate of poor car drivers.

    The issue I was thinking about was that of pollution. It’s well documented that living near expressways adversely affects the neighboring population. That’s just one more reason not to build the mega-junction in the middle of the city.

    Are there any air pollution maps of the city (sort of like this one)? On the linked example, you can see red lines on the pollution “heat map” that correspond to highways through Brooklyn and Queens. I wonder if a similar trend happens in Louisville.

  16. I think that opposing the ORBP would be quixotic at this moment. Those who know me and my positions about it might be surprised to see me say or type that, but that’s where I’m at.

    Sure, I think the current downtown portion of the design would be ruinous to downtown Louisville, East Market and Butchertown, and their respective economic development and historic structures.

    Sure, I think that tolls on existing bridges is a bad idea and should be opposed vigorously.

    Sure, I think alternative funding methods beyond tolls should be identified.

    Sure, I think the East End Tunnel is a joke on more than one level and it should be scrapped in favor of a walled freeway.

    Sure, I think that concentrating on freeway building at the expense of mass transit is poorly weighted.

    But I’m supporting the ORBP going forward because its initial development (East End Bridge) would be good for the regional economy, and strangely enough, it alone would fix the cross-river transportation system issues according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, no less.

    River Fields conspired with some local leaders to weight down the original East End Bridge project with aspects (including a second downtown bridge and hyper-widened Spaghetti Junction) to make the project so odious and expensive that it wouldn’t happen. Well, what’s happened is that their bluff has been called by two aspects: 1) Local business leaders more powerful than they are have said “Enough is enough!” and with merger were able to push government forces to start making all this happen, despite its immense size and costs; 2) Engineering logic has ensured that the East End Bridge be completed first in the ORBP process.

    Now, of course, we see River Fields opposing by lawsuit an ORBP plan they had a direct hand in loading up with unnecessary crap in the 1990s and moving forward with the hope that the people of Louisville would never let it proceed. Well, we’re letting it proceed, and if they think they can trick those of us troubled by the crap they created to try and stop the whole thing, they have another thing coming. River Fields may think that most of us just fell off the turnip truck, but there are enough of us (thankfully) who know better.

    The ORBP needs to move forward while we in the community fight against its odious aspects while it’s being steered. Perhaps we’ll even win a few of those battles. And maybe after the East End Bridge is complete we will have an enlightened local leadership that will see that the downtown portions of the project are ridiculous and proceed to re-open the ROD and modify it downward.

  17. Regarding your question of air pollution maps, Branden, I came across this one mapping fine particulate matter (like the one you linked)


    That map and several others are available via a list of links from the APCD site:

    Didn’t seem at first glance that primary congestion points/truck traffic had an adverse effect on PM pollution, but I might go back and look at some historical data. (Rubbertown and Kosmosdale power plant stand out) Also, the Louisville maps seem pretty simplistic…green dots with little contrast.

  18. Truck drivers cause fewer accidents, but when a crash occurs the consequences are much more severe for the rest of the cars on the road. Trucks slow things down exponentially at onramps and when placed into a traffic jam because of the slower turning speed, greater stopping distance, and slower acceleration. Diverting many of the trucks out of downtown by law as most cities do, which I don’t think would be possible if the East End bridge bridge was exclusively tolled, would greatly improve the flow of traffic. There is much more room in suburban interchanges to make the decision point onramps more gradual, enabling trucks to maintain their speed. This is not to say that spaghetti junction should not be redesigned to have more gradual onramps, but rather a logical observation that they should carry as few trucks as possible because of the limits of this interchange. And don’t forget about what happens if the status quo is maintained at hospital curve, hazardous cargo is allowed to pass yards away from hospitals. Evacuating 3 large hospitals with the most severe care patients in the city should perfectly illustrate the need to divert Hazardous cargo around the city center.

  19. The Louisville area is going to grow geographically. This is a fact. We do not live in Portland Oregon or Vancouver BC, we de not have an Urban Growth Boundary. Although I would prefer that we have a UGB along with congestion pricing, neither are politically viable in the foreseeable future. Given this fact, the most practical, sustainable, and healthy way to grow is in 360 degrees from the urban core. Post East End Bridge, The average commute times for residents in Utica, IN will be shorter than most of those in Henry, Oldham, Bullit, or any of the other surrounding counties.

  20. Dave, “cowardly” and “reckless” JC here. Don’t worry, I won’t take it personally. You seem to imply that we (8664) want to increase interstate capacity, but that’s clearly not our objective. In fact our plan would reduce downtown capacity so interstate traffic is better dispersed around the region. More importantly it would correct a major planning decision that has made downtown much less attractive, livable and DENSE. You think an EE Bridge will decrease density. I don’t agree. In the long run, if we reconnect our city to the river and make other smart decisions – dare I say improved transit – I think Louisville will become more densely populated and the per capita VMT will go down quickly. Isn’t that what we want? Less people in cars, less pollution, etc.

    You used the word “absurd” which is exactly what I think of your statement “River Fields is the only organization with the balls to challenge the obviously broken ORBP plan in court”. I guess it took real balls to send out a press release in 1994 saying that River Fields supported a downtown bridge and that it would be good for Waterfront Park because it would create additional parking under the bridge. Knowing all the while that it was simply an attempt to waste tax dollars and delay the East End Bridge. We’re reckless?

  21. ^ Oh snap. I agree with the “cowardly” and “reckless” one: 100%.

    Back to something Jeremy said-you make a valid point that “…not everyone’s responsibility to help subsidize…” commuter lifestyle. However, the consequences for not thinking regionally are pretty harsh. If we cut off the commuters, the employers actually take the jobs to the workers, and we loose employers from within our city (one of the purposes of a city, btw) to the suburbs.

    That’s a trend that already has a life of it’s own, I don’t thing we need to put anymore fuel on that fire.

  22. While I try hard to suppress my cynical side, and comments such as stunoland’s “we do not live in a Portland” etc usually make me silently nod in agreement while at the same time wish our mentality and reality ran counter to that prevailing cynicism, my belief in local government’s ability to intelligently “think regionally” is virtually nonexistent.

    With regards to the 8664 plan: Love the plan, most of all the notion that developmental and locational patterns might be encouraged by actually trying to make the downtown area more attractive and livable. That is how leaders should think – “How can I make something I want people to do or somewhere where I want people to go irresistible to them? If something/somewhere is made sufficiently compelling, people will do that particular thing or go to that particular place.” 8664 does this to a point (and I think that’s great). However, the “regional thinking” of EEB-only or the 8664 plan still rewards the sprawling commuter lifestyle. It acknowledges it. It builds a bridge for it. It rewards it.

    (If making downtown “irresistible” makes Harrod’s Creek/Prospect/et al, well…less irresistible for current residents by way of an EEB, they may sprawl upstream. After all, they seem to like living 5-10 miles upstream of the nearest bridge…if bridges move upstream, so too do those people)

    I don’t disagree with “economic development”…I see that point. But I think that in the petri-dish-experimentation of building roads and highways with the hopes of making the greatest number of people better-off, Louisville tends to fail. No matter how well-thought-out an idea may be, if it is tantamount to petri-dish-development/demography/trend analysis AND it is carried out with construction of permanent concrete, at best I will be guardedly optimistic. At worst, outspokenly hostile.

    I know that not building any bridge is not politically feasible. I begrudgingly believe that an EEB would help balance traffic equilibrium and, as it has been promised for sometime, probably ought to be built. However, I completely agree with Dave and induced demand. If you build it, people will literally come out of the woodwork to drive on it and–sooner than you imagine–you’re left with the same (if not more!) of the congestion the petri-dish-experiment attempted to eliminate.

    In short, I am for the 8664 plan. Without I-64, an EEB would probably be necessary (though I’m not in love with the concept). To me, 8664 is only passively anti-sprawl in so far as it makes downtown more appealing. However, it rewards the suburbs with convenience (fleeting as it may be due to induced demand).

    Curtis’s comment on “cutting off commuters” made me think of crack addicts, dope fiends, and meth heads. The guts to cut off the former as well as the latter might have positive social impact. “Losing employers from within our city” could be handled (using much less concrete) with the previously-mentioned urban growth boundary. Regarding loss of city employers, fringe roads are what “add fuel to that fire”.

  23. Also, I try not to live completely by an “us vs. them” mentality. Though I never drive in the east end, I do ride my bike out there occasionally and it is a beautiful area.

    Due to housing and location preferences, I (quite literally) live in the shadow of I-64. I am all for 8664 as it gets rid of a disruptive highway slicing through my neighborhood, but I sympathize with those who don’t want more roads and traffic through theirs.

    I do not mean to imply that all commuters are evil and are to blame for their choices. However, the “commuter mindset” in which people demand and ravenously consume more and more roadways is the problem.

  24. I too, live in the shadow of I-64, well, a ramp, actually, but I don’t object to people objecting to new roads. But I’m wondering about the whole “bypass downtown” concept – since eventually, they need to hook back up with 64, and that means either coming through Portland (although I wonder if that is the unstated purpose of the new ramp being built there) – or we will need a new bridge in southwest Jefferson County as well?

  25. In the 8664 plan an at-grade parkway, except for maybe a flood wall crossing, would replace I-64 and handle local traffic between 22nd St and I-65.

    My preference would be a 45 MPH, slightly built up (at the low points) to a 25-30 year flood level, landscaped semi-limited access parkway. For westbound trafic headed south this parkway could feature a New Jersey style turnaround at 9th or possibly a 1 level flyover exit (not ideal but infinitely better than what is there now). A west bound 3rd St turning lane with light could be also employed during non-rush hour times. This parkway would be 5 lanes with a 6th turning lane added where east bound traffic exits south at approx 16th, 9th, 6th, 3rd and possibly Preston St. After this point the parkway would merge with Spaghetti Junction via Adams St. For East-west traffic this parkway would feature no sharp turns and may require knocking out part of the presbyterian HQ parking garage and/or pushing back the corner of waterfront park at Witherspoon and River Road. What about pedestrian access? A public plaza could be built that covers the slugger field parking lot and spans what is now Witherspoon St. between Preston, Floyd, and Washington. Underneath the plaza would be parking or possibly some combination office, restaurant and parking spaces. Again this would require a slight redesign of the entrance to Waterfront park but would result in more total public park space if you include the plaza. Also, HAVE YOU SEEN I-64? IT IS indistuptably UGLY and changing the entrance to the park would be a small price to pay for removing the giant puss ooozing facial scar that is the I-64 Riverfront expressway. The parkway would feature attractive metal railings seperating the sidewalks and a button triggered at-grade pedestrian crossing could be open during non rush hour times at 3rd St. Other pedestrian overpasses could be built at the arena, museum plaza and the Muhammad Ali center. Also, because of the slightly built up nature of this parkway, at the low points a few pedestrian underpasses could be built. I support 8664 but I feel that their waterfront parkway design is not optimally designed to move traffic and in general makes their argument a tough sell to the public. Just my 2 cents.

  26. We need to keep it a little slower, Stu. 45 MPH is way too fast when 35 MPH should do the job just fine. Take a look at the article I wrote about West Street in Manhattan that was once the West Side Highway. It’s an urban boulevard with 6 lanes (but there’s also more traffic in Manhattan) and a 35 MPH speed limit. There’s a beautiful linear park along the river as well.

    What your describing sounds a little too much like simply taking 64 and lowering it to the ground. An urban boulevard performs a much different function than a highway and can coexist quite well with multi-modal transportation patterns. Take a look at some of the photos from the West Street example.

    It’s important to realize a street does more than move traffic. It has social and economic functions as well that proper urban design can account for.

    I do like the point of elevating the road above it’s current position, though, and I think that’s in the 8664 plan. It has to be low and flood-prone today to maintain clearances because of the highway above it. There doesn’t need to be a stop light at every intersection and in that regard, I guess it is limited access, but connectivity will still be a key element.

  27. 45 MPH might be a little fast because that generally means 50. Maybe a strictly enforced 40 or normal 35 would work. I particularly think a plaza spanning Witherspoon makes a lot of sense because limiting the number of stop lights and traffic backups is important. This plaza would allow at-grade pedestrian crossings to be limited during rush hour. I noticed that some of West St. in Manhattan features railings seperating the traffic from pedestrians. Personnaly I’m sold on the traffic dispersing effects of removing roads but this is a tough sell to the public. Also people in Manhattan are used to traffic. Louisvillians complain if they have to wait to turn left during rush hour. What do you think about the possibilty of well lit security camera monitored underpasses once the road is slighty built up west of the Presb HQ garage?

  28. The combination of tolls and an unmarketable gateway/image defining waterfront for the next 100 years make the current design of the downtown ORBP the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century. Do you agree? I know you're busy Branden but we are all eagerly anticipating your thoughts on the recent developments in the economy crushing boondogle known as the current design of the downtown ORBP.

  29. Is there any interest in a flash gathering outside of city hall (or perhaps a more relevant place such as the Fischer or Heiner campaign headquarters) at some point in the near future to protest the ORBP? I’m imagining civil disobedience but, you know, you can judge for yourself what is appropriate. I guess by near future I had in mind a Friday, during the actual work day, in the coming month.

  30. Not a bad idea. Just an idea here, what if we all had plastic butcher knives with fake blood to represent how Louisville’s front lawn is going to be butchered/unmarketable for the next 100+ years. 50 people With bloody butcher knives might get some attention. Maybe white aprons with fake blood as well. With Local news if it bleeds it leads.

  31. Stu- Yes to thinking outside the box no to blood and knives. There’s real blood being shed on this planet, I don’t think think we’re entitled to use that metaphor.
    However- what you think of a video maybe like the one UnF–k the Gulf that’s going viral on the net?

  32. Our

    Curtis, the metaphor would be in the context of a butchershop slaughtering animals and not armed conflict. I think in this case the plastic butcher knives and fake blood would be appropriate.

  33. So I have continued to think about the issue and what is possible. First, let’s not waste our time. Second, peaceful protest is an outdated and ineffective means of political change. Third, I’m not advocating a non-peaceful solution; so where does that leave us? Maybe choosing targets of protest well? Such as disrupting meetings of those making decisions about the ORBP? Can that information be be acquired? When I say disrupting perhaps blocking streets leading to the building they meet in, or blocking doors, or getting into and disrupting the meeting itself. I want whatever is done to be effective and simply bringing the public’s attention to the issue doesn’t seem to have worked in the past. I’m starting to miss the kids and their black bloc…

  34. If you want to get arrested and make the city look like a bunch of fools go down to city hall and chalk on the sidewalk in front of the steps “IF YOU BUILD IT THEY WON’T COME & WE WON’T STAY” and “Our Riverfront Butchered Permanently.” I did and my court date is 9am August 2nd, court room 303. They charged me with 3rd degree criminal mischief.

  35. I think the tide is turning in our direction, and our behaving in an ethical, informative manner has been a big part of that.

    I think we should think twice before engaging in unconstructive activities.

    Surely we can muster the imagination to come up with effective ways of getting our points across, and building on our movement, without resorting to any form of bullying.

    We’re on the moral side of the equation right now. Let’s keep it that way.

  36. Stu,
    Does 3rd gcriminal mischief translate into a fine? Are you planning on fighting that?

    Maybe valid points but what suggests to you the tide is turning? It seems to me that isn’t so much the case as there just won’t be funding to complete the project in it’s entirety.

  37. Oh, I think that may have been in relation to my post but I’m not sure what I suggested would qualify as immoral…maybe uncivil is the better word.

  38. Stu, not that I know of. I am just saying we shouldn’t get involved in unconstructive behavior. I wouldn’t count what you did as unconstructive.

    Edmund, the tide is indeed turning in terms of public opinion. Most of the print media and online discourse is on our side, and politicians have been increasingly bending in our direction.

  39. This morning, when I noticed this thread had been reactivated, I went back and read all the posts from the beginning, and I was struck with how central the bridge and roads issue is to what this city is and can be, and perhaps more importantly, how complex an issue it is, how varied the takes and turns, the opinions and remedies. To talk intelligently about it we must raise questions about class, about work, about sprawl, about creativity, about neighborhoods, about sustainability and growth, about green and brown, about race, about air, about preservation, about architecture, about poverty, isolation, competitiveness, aesthetics, education, cars and trucks and buses and trains…

    We are hungry for, even if we don’t know it, a real and open and honest conversation. What we have instead is private grumbling, back-room deals, passive-aggressive outbursts… and silence. Our media and public figures have failed us. Nothing of any substance or value has been discussed in the mayor’s race (I know, I know, Tyler and Jackie have gotten to make their cases, but that’s not the same as a conversation). The Courier, as is noted ad nauseam here, has a vested interest that precludes full conversation there. I think LEO, despite some excellent reporting and editorials, has mostly failed in this regard. Radio and TV… nothing.

    I have talked in the past about using street theater – mock funerals for historic buildings lost and about to be lost; plastering of Baer’s and other threatened buildings with stories from people with fond and significant memories of those sites; marching with ‘before, now, and after’ images; a march with gas masks; satirical enactments of the execution of Butchertown and NuLu… but let’s be honest, if can’t raise real awareness and then TALK WITH the people in Prospect who drive into downtown to work every day, the Ford worker who hasn’t been downtown in years, the person in the West End frustrated with food deserts and bad public transportation, the teenagers who will live with our decisions, the unemployed blue collar workers… if we can’t bring everyone in and HEAR them, add their visions and concerns to the discussion, then our own rather private one is worth nothing, and our confrontational forays are just entertainment or irritation that have nothing to do with the rest of the city.

    I say it again and again, as someone with no means to make it happen, that until ORBP is a topic of give-and-take PUBLIC AND WIDESPREAD conversation in our media, in our auditoriums, on our streets, we will have failed the issue. By ‘failed the issue’ I mean that the bridges and roads issue is an OPPORTUNITY that should not be missed to make Louisville come out of its little cliques and hollers and talk to itself about its sense of Place, its history, its connections, its weirdness, its personality… and its future.

  40. Ken, I totally appreciate your concerns. There are many ways to skin a cat, and I agree that we may not have been utilizing the most optimal means for achieving community progress on this matter.

    One clause from your presentation struck me the most: “private grumbling”.

    It seems to me that if we really want to make progress, we need to turn that private into public, especially with area businesses. When businesses speak, the public and the media seems to pay attention more, for better or worse, so what can we do to make a lot more of this grumbling public?

  41. Yes, indeed, Steve. To my long list of sub-issues ORBP raises, I should have added – in fact should have led with – ‘Economics.’ If Freud was right that for the individual it all boils down to Sex (actually, I’m a Jungian and believe it all comes down to the Search for Meaning!), for the public it all comes down to Economics… and fear. Until the range and nuances of economic consequences are discussed frankly, we can make no headway. That means we have to crack the big intransigent questions (How do I get to work? Will the bridge give me a job? Will the cost come out of my pocket? Why should I have to move downtown to make you happy?) and get to the subtler questions that right now mean nothing to most people (How do we bring in Creatives? How do we make the city green? How do we reduce sprawl? How do we make our city liveable?). So your point is key: if we can get businesses in the conversation and hear them say that smarter and smaller and more flexible are better for business – again and again and again (as a teacher I know how people learn: you must hear something many times before its part of you) – then we may make headway.

    But, and this is the question no one ever answers for me – what are the VENUES and MEDIA (wish I could use italics. Caps look amateur!) we can use for this more nuanced conversation?

  42. Actually Ken, I think you accidentally stumbled upon the only way to engage the public in this issue. Sex. I think 500,000 people in this city knows what “15 seconds” is all about and that didn’t happen but 24 hours ago. We want a more nuanced conversation, we need to incorporate sex into the conversation. Not murder. Sorry Stu! 🙂

  43. As far as media is concerned, it might be worthwhile to create a kind of coalition for opposition to the bridge tolls and the unnecessary parts of the ORBP, with the ongoing reinforcement through continual reporting and discussion around that. Currently, it’s working like a wink and a nod between outlets.

    A more basic question could be: How do we get much more of the public involved with media outside of the “newspaper of record”?

    As for films, I hear the 1997 film Divided Highways is really worth watching. Here’s the transcript: http://www.skidmore.edu/academics/roads/TRANSCRIPT.html (note: I haven’t read it yet, but intend to)

  44. Ken, I don’t have an answer regarding what venues and forms of media we can make use of to reach a wider audience. It could be something as simple as a number of folks standing on downtown street corners in a given day and talking about it with people who pass by. Perhaps fliers could be printed up if people like that idea. Really, I’m open to any suggestion that wouldn’t be futile. Would people be interested in pooling resources and renting a billboard along the interstate that makes use of some of the images of the projected highway expansion from the 8664 site?

  45. I like Stu’s ideas of protesting with butcher knives and the butchering of butchertown. As someone else pointed out, killing is not the same thing as murder, and we often use the metaphor of the city as a living entity. Using the metaphor of it getting carved up is also appropriate.

    Personally, I see street protest being pretty effective when you know your target. The massive street protestests against segregation or the Vietnam war were aimed at the public at large, initially by a minority. If you want to target the public, target the public. If you want to target Heiner/Fischer, target Heiner/Fischer. I think these are both effective ways to proceed. Also: fun.

  46. If you want something more immediate, and not highly planned, how about a daily meme campaign?

    Brainstorm and create a list of impactful memes, and spread them online, one a day.

  47. In the middle of a recession the only thing people understand is jobs. We have to make people understand that tolling ourselves to build some of the world’s ugliest infrastructure on our image defining waterfront is beyond stupid and will lead to economic stagnation. We need to define the current design and funding plan of the downtown ORBP as the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century.

  48. Perhaps a focus could also put on the way in which this project primarily benefits those with the financial resources to own a car at a time when the members of our community least capable of shelling out cash are being asked to pay increased fares for reduce service on TARC.
    Does anyone have a connection to the leadership at Humana? I would think that a health care provider (and major player in our city) might be interested in this project if look at it from a public health angle. An at grade boulevard would certainly make for a better photo-op of their head quarters. The ORBP promotes a car culture that prevents people from walking, biking, and making use of public transit. I’m sure other compelling reasons for them to be against the project could be thought up. But I guess there is no sense in limiting the discussion to Humana, it’s just what came to mind first. If we can enlist the businesses in our community that have political/financial/social capital this discussion will have a much better chance of reaching those in government.

  49. I like the idea of raising the consciousness of people with ORBP as a focus… perhaps an ad showing people in Lexuses and BMWs tooling in and out of downtown juxtaposed with a cluster of folks waiting for a bus, checking their watches… and then a voice-over: Is making it easier for some people to get in and out of downtown more important than some of us getting to work? Is a bridge and lots of lanes of traffic better than a good mass transit?” Something to that effect.

    A real pipe dream of mine is going over the heads of the local powers and calling in the national media. Imagine a segment of 60 Minutes using Louisville’s bridges project as an example of short-sighted, big-ticket bad planning in America… Or a special report by Louisville’s own Diane Sawyer, putting Louisville in the context of green and creative attitudes towards bridges, highways, and waterfronts in places like Portland and San Francisco, etc. I just want the current power structure to realize how lost they are in terms of Progress. What would it take to EMBARRASS them?

  50. Somebody should create a national “Worst of” list, designing it to place Louisville at the bottom of many of these qualities. It won’t be difficult.

    Note that I think Louisville is amongst the “Best of” in some other qualities as well.

    The bottom line is that power people in this community are indeed sensitive to how Louisville is viewed across the country.

    I agree, let’s exploit this sensitivity.

  51. We need a campaign to get every blogger and media person who covers these issues to spotlight Louisville’s impending disaster. I think Aaron Renn from the Urbanophile should be our first target. I think I remember reading that he was born in Louisville.

    arenn @ urbanophile .com (remove spaces)

  52. He grew up across the river and down the road. I’d love for him to come and speak. He’s written extensively about the bridges project.

  53. I don’t think pitting car commuters vs. mass transit riders is a winning strategy. Autophiles have a super majority and probably show up on voting day more consistently. We need to make suburban car commuters understand that tolling ourselves to butcher our image defining waterfront for the next 100+ years is beyond stupid and will destroy any chance Louisville has of competing in the 21st century & beyond. We need to make them understand that it is in the best interest of everyone, except highway contractors, that the downtown ORBP be stopped or altered.

  54. Ken, I think that is a great idea. Sadly there are only about 6 of us involved in this discussion but how about we all take 5 mins to write to 60 mins and a couple other shows trying to get more media attention on this?

  55. Can anyone provide contact info to Ray LaHood? I can’t find his email anywhere. The ORBP certainly doesn’t live up to the new criteria he has set forth.

  56. Endorsing 8664 is not the same thing as highlighting the devastating flaws in the current plan. The truth is Louisville has multiple options that both allow people to get where they are going quickly and do not destroy our city’s ability to compete in the 21st century. We need Mr. Renn to write a piece on the devastating consequences of the downtown ORBP for the economy, talent retention and attraction, tourism, and overall city image. Tolling was not part of Mr. Renn analysis and it might just be enough for him to declare the current design of the downtown ORBP the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century. We need to focus on advocating media coverage on the regional & national blog level and local media at first. National media comes later.

  57. Stu, you’re right about commuters v riders, especially if the ultimate goal is not to alienate suburbanites, but enlist them in the fight for better, smarter transportation alternatives. In cities with rapid transit like DC’s and Baltimore’s, suburbanites who commute are no longer part of the big problem. The Big Picture in Louisville should include re-visioning the suburbs, and that means, in part, visiting mass transit. (Only later can we tell them to stop filling their lawns and our groundwater with poisons, etc.)

    I admit the little ‘going over their heads’ move of calling in the national media – or calling for LaHood’s help -is a bit of a fantasy, but it’s worth a few shots in the dark. Renn, though, is a realistic target. He’s with us completely, though I bet his fees are high. But this, too, is worth shooting for.

    I just ran across this review, and then just got off the phone ordering the book from Carmichael’s. Sounds intriguing. I should have it this week, and then can pass it around when I’m finished: http://www.thepolisblog.org/2010/07/book-review-city-building-nine-planning.html

  58. That book, at least from the review, seems to focus only on design-firm ethics, and not on seat-of-the-pants, grassroots, micro, guerrilla efforts (though it did use a term I first heard from Kulapat Yantrasast, the Speed Museum redesign architect – ‘acupuncture design,’ which is about the ways key micro-design moves can ‘heal’ larger areas). There are at least three levels at which changes must or can take place: the political, the architect or design firm, and the ‘street-level’ – ad hoc groups, think tanks, crowdsourcing, neighborhood associations, etc.

  59. His blog accepts user’s comments. I have my doubts he’s actually the one typing in each blog article, though. Google “the fast lane LaHood”.

  60. Luckily, these astroturfers are giving us a lot of time to pick this apart. For the sake of getting any critical review right, I hope many will go through this video carefully and even painstakingly.

    Offhand, I would say they are getting desperate and while watching, it didn’t take long before I spotted the first problem.

  61. Much has been made on other sites about Dems and independents considering voting for Heiner due to a perceived difference in his stance on the ORBP. With the latest polling figures out maybe this is a good time for all of of us to let Fischer know we would vote for him if he changed his stance on this one issue. I did.

  62. Dave Morse – you’ll be happy to know that 8664 is working with Urban Planners from the Atlanta office of Perkins & Will.

    The intent to produce a more comprehensive overview of the effects of instituting the 8664 plan would have on the region.

    Perkins & Will are donating their services as part of their firm wide Social Responsibility Initiative, which dictates that each office donate 1% of their yearly billable hours towards a worthy cause. The work is currently ongoing and completed by the fall.

  63. I just got the book City Building: Nine Planning Principles for the Twenty-First Century by John Lund Kriken (http://books.google.com/books?id=Ir0Hr5lSH48C&printsec=frontcover&dq=city+building+kriken&source=bl&ots=lcCjOcCKNn&sig=Nc1sUNfgRhk_wjlpJQm6n6f3XYA&hl=en&ei=1hJcTLXmB8H78Aay9b3bAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false)
    Here is a particularly cogent passage: “To establish the walkability of an area and protect pedestrian comfort, major movement corridors need to be located at the edges of neighborhoods and districts. Conversely, those corridors must not be located in urban spaces where they wall off important views and amenities, SUCH AS WATERFRONTS AND OTHER PUBLICLY VALUED NATURAL FEATURES [emphasis mine]. San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway, for example, stood for nearly three decades as a virtually impermeable barrier between the waterfront and the downtown. Its destruction in the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 was almost universally applauded by a population that regained its magnificent waterfront through what many thought was an act of a merciful God.”
    We are threatened by an act of Satan, and may someday pray for an earthquake.

  64. And Ken, with what did SFO replace the Embarcadero? An at grade parkway with a streetcar line running in the median.

  65. @Matthew Kaul
    Huh, yes, I do believe I recently traveled that section. It was a very, very hard ride. Tourists with money falling out of their pockets kept on spilling out of the sidewalks and into my intended travel path. Add the complication of traversing streetcar tracks on a bike, plus the gazillions of taxis servicing the tourists, and you start to see difficulty. This has been an unmitigated windfall for SF.

  66. To some extent this blog and others have served as a reconditioning authority for Louisville’s Alexes.

    This debate has become ridiculous, violent, and dispassionate.

  67. NS – I want to thank you for calling us out. There IS a stridency and narrowness here that I find myself falling into despite my best intentions. In The Big Sort, Bill Bishop talks about the way Americans have clustered themselves into like-minded enclaves where the most moderate voices slowly give in to most extreme and close-minded factions. There is something sickly satisfying about venting one’s frustrations and angers in a place where everyone will back you up and egg you on. My Clockwork Orange image is a good example…

    But one thing you must understand is the powerlessness from which this stridency springs. We preach to the converted here because the unconverted seem so deaf. My allusion to Alex comes from a deep, helpless feeling. I have been educating myself for a couple of years in urban design, sustainability, smart growth, architecture, etc. When I moved back to Louisville five years ago after 35 years away, I was struck by the impressive progress, the hipness, the beauty of my hometown – but then I slowly realized what bad politics and economic forces were at work to undermine that progress. It seemed… seems… as though the powers that be in Louisville have not been doing the kind of simple homework I have. They seem oblivious to the findings, the insights, the developments in urban livability that most progressive cities in America now take for granted. Hence my – yes, somewhat violent – desire to just MAKE them listen to long-term, researched, healthy ideas.

    The absence of a broader vision, the deaf ear to the big picture in the recent mayoral race makes it clear that the things we talk about here on Broken Sidewalk will have no impact on the future of the city. We get angry. We get testy. We sulk here in our little enclave.

    I have been talking to a lot of people privately about the need for a venue and platform where the two sides actually speak to each other and do what you imply we should do: weigh options, compromise, entertain each other’s ideas and make new ideas. AND go beyond the Bridge and Spaghetti issue to our real problems with incorporating under-served areas like the West and Southwest and South Ends, like transportation issues around the whole Metro area, like food deserts, like ecological degradation… I want us to talk about the value of Place, pride of Place, poetics of Place, ecology of Place… If we had somewhere where the gamut of voices could be heard – a calm place – we would make real progress.

    So yes, we need to listen better, even as we feel frustrated that no one is listening to us. We need to talk about what we want beyond an East End Bridge or a clear view of the river.

    But until we get even a hint that the powers we seek to inform are willing to be informed; that they are willing to read and learn and change and grow, we will probably continue to have our little tantrums and seethe in our own juices.

    You cannot imagine the wash of joy I would feel if Jerry Abramson or Greg Fischer or Hal Heiner suddenly appeared on Broken Sidewalk and said, “There are strong arguments being voiced here. I like that perspective and this one. Maybe the answer lies in doing this… or here’s an idea…”


  68. Best way to kill a discussion on the internet: write a long, thoughtful, somewhat introspective post. Everybody runs, I guess.

  69. Not at all Ken. You just gave us a lot to process. I spent the last two years studying Environmental Policy and Planning at Virginia Tech, and trying to become informed on the enviornmental and urban planning issues that are related to my beloved hometown. From what I have experienced in both the realms of politics and sustainability, the main point that you have made is undeniably (and sadly) true. The phenomena that you and Bill Bishop discuss is one that I have often succumbed to, finding it much easier to simply huddle with like minded people rather than try to bridge what sometime seems like an ideoligical Grand Canyon. There is truth in the saying (which I gleaned from one of the lectures of a very astute college professor) “It is much easier to be against something, than to be for it” Much easier to declare “I am against the Ohio Rivers Bridges Project” than to propose a solution that would solve downtown congestion problems while protecting our waterfront. Much easier to decry Todd Blue’s proposal to demolish the Iron Quarter than to work with him to create a plan to preserve it. Am I that it is wrong to hold some of these opinions? Absolutely not! I myself have declared and decried more than most people I know, I am quickly finding that it is a very hard habit to kick. However, if Louisville is to ever realize its full potential as a sustainable, beautiful, and bustling metropolis, its citzenry must learn to bridge the political and ideoligcal gap between the “like-minded enclaves”. Only when we stand united as a city will the government that was and is designed for the people, by the people begin to create the policy that will give us the future that we deserve.

  70. Holy cow! It was only after I read through my previous statement that I realized that it sounds like a damn campaign speech. Apparently, Im an idealistic crazy person.

  71. So…..

    Ken and Porter’s ‘gap-bridging’ comments, while thoughtful, introspective, and, yes, “campaign-speech-like” are also rather rhetorical. Trust me, I am firmly in the consensus-building camp and choir-preaching bugs the hell out of me too.

    But, the fact remains that, for the most part, The Big Sort holds true. We do congregate in like-minded enclaves and “we” (urban-minded BS readers, certain flavors of progressives, etc) do staunchly oppose ORBP and “they” (construction industry, majority of the political elite, THE MEDIAN VOTER) are largely for it. I hate to couch it in the “us” vs. “them” language folks but, realistically, that’s the reality.

    I’m usually all for compromise and gap-bridging, but I fail to understand how we could realistically listen to the other side’s ideas and unite to move forward.

    Ken, Porter,…anyone…what type of compromise can the anti-ORBP crowd propose such that our desire to maintain a degree of urban livability and not sacrifice our city’s soul on the altar of automobiledom is reconciled with a suburban populace’s demands of less traffic/congestion, concrete footprint be damned?

  72. If the compromise that might unite the metro area is to build the East End bridge, what should be done to assure that people aren't left with a feeling that the city didn't "finish the job" with respect to Spaghetti Junction?

    Rightly or wrongly (wrongly!), many have been led to believe that a downtown rework in combination with the East End bridge is the only answer to their problems. If the project is split, say, and an East End bridge is built first, it's no secret that traffic will still exist downtown even if ramps are streamlined. Will then residents insist that the job is not completed, and demand the orignal proposed downtown bridge too?

    I guess the point is that, as kinda mentioned above, the anti-ORBP crowd must also be known as the pro-'something' group. Without really articulating what is to be gained by reevaluating ruinous downtown highway construction, the risk is that construction will be championed with renewed vigor after the East End bridge is built. What is to be gained by ALL residents if the ORBP is scaled back? That must be the rallying cry.

  73. 4 lanes with a central green strip for trees.
    + Bicycle sharrows on the rightmost inland lane and a bi-directional semi-seperated bike facility on the river side, that doesn't allow left turns, but that does allow bikes to merge into general traffic lanes every now-and-then mid-block.

    20' sidewalk on the inland side (for sidewalk dining and window-shopping). 12' sidewalk on the river side, for smooching and runners.

    Double-lane roundabouts every couple of blocks remove the need for a center-turn-lane, as simple U-turns allow people to backtrack to intersections that are not directly served by roundabouts (driveways should be minimized in any case because they make the walking experience suckier).

    The roundabouts keep the 30mph traffic moving faster than a 45mph road with stop lights, and the air clean, and the other roadway users safer. On-street parking in dedicated pockets, but with bulb-outs at intersections and at the copious mid-block pedestrian crossings. Mid block crossings are raised crosswalks that invite the walker to cross over and shop, or visit the parks space on the riverfront.

    There might be a case for economic-development streetcar in lanes 2 and 3. Alighting and debarking would be done from dedicated traffic islands, with at-deck level boarding. This speeds up the streetcar and makes it more useful as transit, though it would primarily be there to spur investment. Also, these islands would perform double-duty as pedstrian crosswalk shelters midblock.

    The aim would not be so much to move automotive traffic quickly, as to suck them in and make them wish the drive were longer. A fair number would actually decide to park and make their trip longer still.

  74. Something strange is going on. What happened to the most recent exchanges among NS, Porter, Jeremy and me? Branden, are you in there doing, uh, things…

  75. While your vision is downright drool-worthy for me, Dave, what benefit might that vision serve a suburbanite who still stereotypes downtown as gritty and unsafe? (Understood that, long-term, if that vision was to be implemented it would serve to actually change the aforementioned view, but many in the suburbs still scoff at bikes and scratch their heads at urban dwellers…how do we make this plan beneficial to them in the present?).

    Much in the same way Louisville is the economic engine for the rest of the state, the CBD really is a concentration of wealth and tax revenue for Louisville Metro. The rest of the state is somewhat hostile to Louisville and, I believe, that same sort of hostility is present in outlying metro areas vis-a-vis the city proper. People who live in the suburbs (somewhat understandably) might have difficulty getting their minds around why people happily (and safely!!) bicycling around in the city and patronizing businesses benefits them. They just want to get from point A to B.

    How do we reach these people?

  76. NPR just built the East End Bridge with this article.

    "The town, situated right on the Ohio river, which separates Indiana from Kentucky, will soon be paved over by a highway."


  77. Suburban dwellers need to understand that the historical nickname for Louisville is the River City and the heart of our city is right where the Belle of Louisville docks. You will not find any marketing materials for the city that show this area of the riverfront because it is indisputably ugly and loud and with the current design of the downtown ORBP will remain so for the next 110 years. To appease suburban interests we need a road on our riverfront that moves traffic and does not make our city unmarketable to the world. The really critical decision is that the downtown ORBP not lock us into having an elevated waterfront expressway and interchange defining our city's image until the year 2120. That mistake will doom Louisville to 100+ years of economic stagnation. To NS – we are fighting for a Louisville that has a functioning economy in the 21st century. We do not want to live in the Detroit of the south.

  78. The latest take on the ORBP involves leaving spaghetti junction where it is versus relocating it deeper into Butchertown and 86ing the graffiti magnet known as the Skatepark. LOVE IT!!!!! 😀

  79. The latest take on the ORBP involves down-scaling the only part of the project the public supports, the east end bridge, while pushing ahead with the hideously ugly and economically destructive expansion of Louisville’s elevated waterfront expressway. The new plan keeps the absurd $250 million tunnel where a handful of wealthy people live while pushing ahead with the total destruction of Louisville’s image defining gateway for the next 100 years. This epic mistake will pull the plug and reopen the brain drain in a way this community has never seen.

  80. Technically rebuilding spaghetti junction in its current footprint means that they cannot expand the expressway over the great lawn. Fat chance of that happening. Clearly they are lying to us. The bridges authority will likely approve the funding master plan for this project before new renderings of the downtown project are even available to the public. Louisville will then be locked into the only expanded elevated waterfront expressway defining our city’s image for the next 110 years. The Louisville example will be taught in every urban planning textbook as a lesson on the consequences of short term thinking and political dysfunction.

    This ridiculous PR effort is meant to appease a slowly awakening public and convince them to hit the snooze button one more time.

  81. So, will the Bridges Authority meeting of February 16 at the KY Convention Center intended to hear ideas to trim the (cost) of the bridges project be open to the public or (as read) limited to invited members of a small cross-section of the community?