Jones, Others Press River Fields To Drop Bridge Suit

by Rick Howlett on July 13, 2011

The newly-formed group Kentuckians For Progress continues its public relations push to persuade the River Fields conservancy to drop is lawsuit that seeks to delay construction of an east end bridge.

River Fields and the National Trust for Historic Preservation filed the federal suit two years ago, claiming the Federal Highway Administration did not follow federal law when it approved the Ohio River Bridges Project in 2003.

Today at the Galt House, members of Kentuckians For Progress, surrounded by about 100 business and civic leaders, held a press conference urging River Fields to drop the suit.

Among the speakers was Humana founder David Jones, KFP’s Rebecca Jackson, and construction business owner and union leader Larry Hujo (pictured), who called the suit a ruse by property owners in eastern Jefferson County to have the bridge built elsewhere.

“I’ve heard these same people that say, ‘if you build that bridge in the East End, you’re going to have a devastating impact on the river and its environs. Build it in Valley Station. Now, I’m not an environmentalist and a person who knows about plants and little animals and critters and stuff, but isn’t that the same river?” he said.

River Fields board chair Lee Cory says the suit is not preventing planners from moving forward with other elements of the project.

“There is no injunction in this situation, no injunction has ever been requested. They have been free to proceed with this project all along,” she said.

The lawsuit is in mediation and on hold pending completion of an environmental impact study.

Cory says River Fields supports a downtown bridge and a reconfigured Spaghetti Junction, but believes an east end bridge would offer no significant traffic or safety benefits.

Many members of River Fields supported Mayor Greg Fischer’s election campaign. A spokesman for Fischer says the mayor supports the efforts to end the lawsuit, but wasn’t sure if Fischer had talked with members of River Fields directly.

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