Industry Forum On Bridges Project Underway

by Rick Howlett on February 16, 2011

A two-day industry forum on the Ohio River Bridges Project began Wednesday with a pep talk from the governors of Indiana and Kentucky and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

More than 800 representatives from the construction, engineering, financial and other industries are attending the event. Government leaders are asking for input on how to complete the project ahead of schedule and with less taxpayer expense.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (pictured above with Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, left, and Fischer) said afterward that there’s a pent-up appetite among in the private sector to get the project moving.

“And if we can stay a little ahead of the curve, I think we have a great chance to bring this thing in for less money. Believe me, pencils will be very sharp, the competition will be very acute,” he said.

The two governors and Mayor Fischer have proposed scaling back the project to trim $500 million from its cost. The changes are subject to a new federal environmental study.

Groundbreaking for the project to build two new Ohio River bridges and reworking Spaghetti Junction is scheduled for August of 2012.

Fischer told the group that the power of the private sector has not yet been unleashed on the project, and urged them to help find ways to make it more efficient.

Some have set up booths the forum, among them H&E Equipment Services, a national construction equipment rental company.    

“We can bring and hire 12-15 more people just for this project, for its duration, and bring in additional $12-$15 million in equipment,” said company representative Dan Tobin (right).

Several groups have formed in opposition to the project’s size or the proposed use of tolls to help pay for it.

(Photos by Dalton Main)

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