There will be public comment hearings today and tomorrow for the Ohio River Bridges Project.
Earlier this month, opponents of tolls welcomed cost reducing changes to the bridges project that were proposed by the Mayor of Louisville and the governors of Kentucky and Indiana. The changes would make the project slightly smaller and cut its cost by $1.2 billion, bringing the total price tag to about $2.9 billion. Previously, it was suggested that tolls would be used to pay for half of the project, and until a final financing plan is in place, it’s not clear how essential tolls will be for the revised plan.
The anti-toll groups say the reduction is just a step toward the ultimate goal of eliminating tolls altogether or making them as low and as infrequent as possible.
Today’s meeting will be at the Holiday Inn in Clarksville, Indiana from four to eight pm. Tomorrow’s meeting will be at the Holiday Inn Hurstbourne in Louisville on Hurstbourne Parkway, also from four to eight pm. Anti-toll groups are calling the comment sessions the “last chance to stop tolls” on the project and are organizing supporters to speak out. Groups on all sides of the issue are expected to be in attendance as well. Those groups’ missions range from stopping the construction of an east end bridge (River Fields) to cutting the downtown bridge and Spaghetti Junction (8664). There are a number of organizations that favor the project (most recently Kentuckians for Progress), and hope to have construction started on or before the projected August 2012 groundbreaking.
Pro-bridges advocate, One Southern Indiana member and businessman Vaughan Scott will be in attendance at today’s meeting. Scott bankrolled a short movie called “Building Bridges with Benny Breeze.” The controversial video was meant to use jokes to promote the immediate construction of the bridges project, but it drew criticism for its alleged use of racial stereotypes for humor. Most of the jokes were cut from the movie, and Scott later delayed the movie’s release, opting to show it publicly today after the meeting, rather than post it online as previously planned.