River Fields, INDOT, KYTC and National Trust reach settlement concerning Ohio River Bridges Project lawsuit


by WHAS11/News Release


Posted on January 4, 2013 at 7:59 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 13 at 2:26 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A major lawsuit against the Ohio River Bridges Project has been settled.

River Fields, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) have agreed to drop the lawsuit, in exchange for additional commitments to historic preservation and public involvement.

The lawsuit was filed in 2009 by the National Trust and River Fields.

The four parties have agreed to dismiss the pending lawsuit initiated by the National Trust and River Fields, in exchange for additional commitments to historic preservation and public involvement.

The settlement agreement recognizes that INDOT and KYTC have now entered into contracts that provide for essentially simultaneous construction of the downtown and east end portions of the Project.  The settlement agreement includes a range of commitments by INDOT and KYTC regarding the protection of historic properties, public involvement and communications during construction of the Project, and issues related to drainage and water runoff.

Rebecca Jackson from the group, Kentuckians for Progress, which says on their website they are “dedicated to combating River Fields and their selfish efforts to stop progress”, had this reaction  to the settlement news:

“Sounds like a very good settlement . I’m very pleased we’re going to get a bridge. We might to able to cross it my lifetime. This bridge was planned back in the late 1950’s.  River Fields slowed the process down and added costs.”

The settlement calls for both states to create a Historic Preservation and Enhancement Fund, to be established with $1.7 million in state funds provided equally by INDOT and KYTC.  The State Historic Preservation Officers for Indiana and Kentucky will use the Fund to administer grants to local governments and non-profit organizations for rehabilitating, preserving and enhancing historic properties and districts within the areas affected by the bridges project.  The agreement lists projects that are eligible for grants from the Fund.  Eligible projects include, among others, grants for the protection and interpretation of notable African-American sites in eastern Jefferson County, Ky., including the historic Jefferson Jacobs School, a Rosenwald School, in Louisville.

The agreement also includes commitments by INDOT and KYTC to carry out actions that go above and beyond the states' existing historic preservation commitments. These additional actions include efforts to protect and relocate historic homes in Jeffersonville, Ind., one of the nation's oldest cities west of the Alleghenies; to develop and submit nominations for properties to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places; to nominate a section of Upper River Road as a National Scenic Byway; and to install historical markers.

In addition, the agreement includes commitments regarding public meetings and communications during the construction phase of the project; development of blasting and vibration monitoring plans for historic properties; and public availability of information regarding permitting for the stormwater management features of the East End Crossing.

Based on these commitments by INDOT, KYTC, the National Trust and River Fields have agreed to dismiss all of their claims in the current lawsuit and waived the right to challenge permits and approvals issued prior to execution of the settlement agreement. All the parties will bear their own attorneys' fees and other costs of the litigation.