Ohio River Bridges Project: First public hearing gathers many opinions

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by Claudia Coffey

WHAS11.com

Posted on December 20, 2011 at 12:55 AM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 20 at 1:03 AM

(WHAS11) – The Ohio River Bridges Project is taking center stage once again. The first of two public hearings was Monday night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

These hearings present the latest environmental review and cost of building the two bridges and revamping Spaghetti Junction.

"If there is anything we should have learned this holiday season is that the gift we were given was the closing of the Sherman Minton Bridge," says Larry Hujo with the Indiana Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters.

The debate of the bridges and the future of Ohio River Bridges Project reignited tonight.

"This has to be done and I have to compliment the authority on how disciplined and professional they have been through this process," says Bill Samuels the President of Maker's Mark. 

The public took the stage and offered opinions on the latest environmental review and price of the building two bridges and redoing Spaghetti Junction. Officials say the plan would save at least $1.2 billion, which would be needed now that the project did not get a federal grant.

Construction would begin next year. This latest approach, detailed through exhibits and interactive slides, was evaluated over the past nine months before being presented to the public. 

The plan now is to rebuild the Kennedy Interchange in the existing location, reduce East End Bridge from six to four lanes and remove the pedestrian and bike path from the I-65 project.  As the debate begins once more on this latest proposal, many desire to do something about it since the closure of the Sherman Minton.

"This project represents an economic development lifeline as the Sherman Minton Bridge closure has demonstrated," says Alan Delisle, the Executive Director of the Downtown Development Corporation.

Tolls are envisioned as part of the project although the actual rates have not been determined. The next meeting is Tuesday December 20 from 4 until 8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Lakeview in Clarksville, Indiana.

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