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Local News

Kennedy Bridge Lanes to Close for Roadwork

Repairs on the Kennedy Bridge will cause lane closures this week.

Crews are replacing bearings on the span, and work near the Kentucky shore will require traffic to be limited to one lane in each direction overnight Tuesday and Wednesday. Lanes will close at 9 pm and reopen at 5 am. Ramp closures will continue during this time as well.

In the daytime, the outermost lanes will be closed from 9 am to 3 pm Wednesday, but ramps will remain open.

Heavier construction is slated for the middle of next month.

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Local News Uncategorized

Former Museum Plaza Site Begins Restoration

Restoration on the former Museum Plaza project site begins this week.

Louisville Metro Public Works has coordinated with project developers on a plan that will reopen 7th Street at River Road. Over the next six weeks crews will be cleaning the area and clearing the two former construction sites. This includes the Science Center Parking lot, which was used as a staging area, but will return to service.

The Museum Plaza project was cancelled in August because developers could not find enough private investments. The project was put on hold in 2008 and then canceled this year.

Metro officials say there is no cost to the city for restoration.

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Local News

Louisville Adds Construction Jobs in August

The Louisville region added 800 more construction jobs in August of this year than in the same month last year, according to data released from the group Associated General Contractors (AGC). Though, the numbers are an anomaly compared to national statistics.

“What we are seeing is that the predominance of work is in the public sector and not in the private sector,” said Ron Wolf with the Kentucky chapter of AGC.

That’s contrary to what AGC is seeing nationally. AGC released U.S. Census data that shows the private sector nationwide has increased investments by 5.5 percent, while the public sector has decreased investments around 8.8 percent.

“A lot of the construction that is going on is going on in the public sector, local governments, some state governments, colleges, schools, things like that that are making some work available. And that’s where we are seeing a lot of the activity today,” said Wolf.

Tim Hunt with Kentuckiana’s Associated Builders and Contractors said he hasn’t seen an increase in area construction. ACB represents over 300 companies region-wide and August is when ABC members look for apprenticeships, said Hunt. This year, apprenticeships have dropped significantly and Hunt said that is partly a reflection of less work available.

Louisville is one of three major Kentucky regions that saw gains in construction work when comparing August 2010 and 2011 numbers.

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Local News

Harrods Creek Community Gets Grant for Erosion

The Harbor at Harrods Creek received a grant of $562,000 and will begin construction next week to fight erosion in the eastern Louisville community.

“It’s eroding the shore line toward the homes. So it’s a matter if time, if not already, where you’re going to have erosion of foundations. It’s pretty close. There’re some of the patios that are cracking off,” said Councilman Kelly Downard who helped advocate for the grant, which took three years to get.

Seventy-five percent of the project is being funded by FEMA’s Hazardous Mitigation Grant Program. The state is pitching in twelve percent of the cost and the remainder will come from the Harbor at Harrods Creek community.

The project will take several weeks to complete, said Downard. And while construction has yet to begin, some residents were elated, he said.

“I’m always fond of saying don’t say what we’ve said, say what we’ve done,” said Downard.

E-Z Construction Co. earned the bid to work on the project.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Museum Plaza Failure Highlights Council’s Taxpayer Protections

Early Monday morning, the developers behind the Museum Plaza project in downtown Louisville called it quits. Craig Greenberg, Steve Wilson, Laura Lee Brown and Steve Poe sent a letter to Governor Steve Beshear and Mayor Greg Fischer saying they couldn’t build the tower. Several years, millions of dollars and hundreds of headlines had been dedicated to the project.

The Museum Plaza groundbreaking in 2007 was a big deal. Then-Mayor Jerry Abramson and other civic and business leaders were on hand to watch a giant shovel drop onto the ground at 6th and Main streets. The 62-story tower was supposed to bring in jobs and businesses and send a message that Louisville was a city on the rise.

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“By combining the arts, commerce and residential purpose in this one, spectacular venue, Museum Plaza, and by extension Louisville will become a model for other cities across the country,” said Senator Mitch McConnell in a video played at the ceremony.

But others were skeptical the building could be paid for.

“I didn’t think it was ever going to get started,” says Metro Councilman Kelly Downard, who wasn’t surprised to hear that the $450 million tower couldn’t be financed.

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Local News

Developers Cancel Museum Plaza

The proposed Museum Plaza project in downtown Louisville has been canceled.

The tower at 6th and Main streets would’ve been the tallest building in Kentucky. It was put on hold three years ago when the developers could not find a suitable bond deal to finance the project.

Hope for the $490 million project was renewed last year when city and state officials announced their intention to seek a $100 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The loan required the developers to find matching funds in the private sector, which they could not.

In a letter to Mayor Greg Fischer and Governor Steve Beshear, developers Steve Wilson, Laura Lee Brown, Craig Greenberg and Steve Poe said they will return the construction site to normal soon. The three spent at least $15 million of their own money on the project. Most of that went to removing an electricity transmission tower.

Brown, Wilson and Greenberg previously developed the 21C Museum-Hotel. They are also planning to preserve the Whiskey Row buildings on east Main Street.

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Local News Politics

Cost Increase Will Not Slow Jeffersonville Canal

A possible $13 million cost increase will not set back the Jeffersonville Canal project in southern Indiana. In fact, the project’s developers say construction could begin before the summer.

The canal is designed to carry rain water to the river, which will keep sewers from overflowing and bring Jeffersonville in line with federal regulations. But developers must also follow regulations on how much river water can flow back into the city. That could bring the total cost of the project up to $65 million.

But project manager Peggy Duffy says it would cost even more to build something other than a canal and still meet federal standards.

“They would’ve been more expensive to deal with using traditional pipe methods for Jeffersonville and for the way Jeffersonville is laid out. So this is something we would have to do anyway, and the construction cost is still practical.”

The project is still in the early design stages. Duffy says the final design will be completed next year. If environmental approval and permits are granted, construction could start in the first six months of 2011.

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Local News

HUD Letter Renews Hope For Museum Plaza Loan

Kentucky officials say they are on the verge of receiving a one hundred million dollar loan to help kick-start Louisville’s Museum Plaza project.

The state applied for the loan through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which uses private investments to help finance projects that will benefit multiple communities. Congressman John Yarmuth says he recently received a letter from HUD officials that said they were optimistic the loan could be arranged.

“I’ve never worked on one of these before so I don’t know whether it’s normal, but I will say that the letter would not have been sent if there was not a strong commitment that, if all the things falling into place outside of HUD, that HUD would make the commitment. They wouldn’t have sent the letter otherwise,” he says.

The loan largely hinges on whether Museum Plaza’s developers can secure 140 million dollars in construction loans. Yarmuth says with federal dollars likely on the line, the construction loans may be easier to obtain.

“My guess is that we will see the formalization of the HUD commitment before the end of the year. I would anticipate work would begin on Museum Plaza sometime in the first half of 2011,” he says.

Work on the 62-story Museum Plaza was stalled indefinitely in 2008 when the project became too difficult to finance.

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Local News

Competition Was Down For JCPS Summer Projects

Summer vacation is over for Jefferson County Public Schools students and employees. That means many major repair projects in school buildings are complete.

Every summer, JCPS seeks bids for contracts for certain projects, such as installing a new ventilation system in Iroquois High School.

Last year, the number of contractors bidding for those projects reached a record high, with one project drawing fourteen bids. Director for Facilities and Transportation Mike Mulheirn says more competition usually leads to lower prices and saves the district money. The competition for this year’s was less fierce, but Mulheirn says the number of bids was still above average.

“We’re still getting, in some cases, eight or nine bidders, which is still high,” he says. “Our prices are more in line with the budget this year. We had some a little bit below and some go over some.”

The total cost of this summer’s projects was about $30 million. Mulheirn says the average number of bidders for summer projects is around five or six.

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Local News

Harrods Creek Bridge Re-Opens

As of Monday, drivers can once again cross the Harrods Creek Bridge in eastern Jefferson County. But while the bridge is open to traffic, but construction isn’t yet complete.

The bridge was closed in 2008 after state inspectors deemed it unsafe. Metro Government planned to rebuild and widen the one-lane span, but the preservation group River Fields filed suit. They sought to protect the bridge as a historic structure.

The lawsuits were eventually dropped, but Mayor Jerry Abramson says the litigation delayed the project significantly.

“We didn’t get to start again until, I want to say, September of 09. So we’re about a year, a year to eight months behind where we had expected to be, but we had to work through the lawsuits.”

Minor repairs on the bridge will continue for the next few weeks.

“There’s still a water line that needs to be put in on the side of the bridge,” says Abramson. “From time to time during the non-peak hours there may be some disruption of the traffic in the sense that we go from two lanes to one lane while they’re putting in the water pipe.”

The bridge is open, but one lane will be closed during off-peak hours for the next few weeks as crews install a water pipe. The bridge repairs cost about $3 million. $2 million will be paid by the state and federal governments.