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Preliminary East End Bridge Work Set for August

Indiana officials are advertising for bids for preparatory work on the state‘s portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield says construction will begin this summer on a road extension between Utica, Indiana and the River Ridge Commerce Center.

It’s the first step toward construction of a new east end bridge.

“We anticipate with bids opening July 11 that we’ll be breaking ground about August in terms of beginning work there. The road extension would open about June, 2013, and obviously we still have the larger procurement for the east end bridge that will be ongoing at that time,” Wingfield said today.

Wingfield says officials hope to have the east end bridge finished by 2018, if not sooner.

Kentucky officials are working with potential contractors on the larger portion of the bridges project, construction of a span in downtown Louisville and the reconfiguration of Spaghetti Junction.

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Kentucky, Indiana Select Finalists for Bridges Project

Kentucky and Indiana have narrowed the list of finalists to build their respective portions of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Kentucky now has three finalists for the construction of a downtown Louisville bridge and the reworking of Spaghetti Junction. Indiana has selected four finalists for an east end bridge.

Transportation and other officials from the two states will meet with their finalist teams to develop their proposals. Kentucky is expected to select a winning team this fall; Indiana says it will have team in place by year’s end.

The $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project cleared a major hurdle last week when the federal government signed off on an environmental impact statement for the plan. It still must approve a record of decision, which is expected this summer.

The Kentucky finalists are:
Ohio River Transportation Constructors, a joint venture of Kiewit Infrastructure Co., Traylor Brothers Inc., Kokosing Construction Co. Inc., and Massman Construction Co.

Skanska, Flatiron, Dragados USA

Walsh Construction Company

The Indiana finalists are:

East End Mobility Partners
SNC-Lavalin Capital
John Laing Investments Limited
Zachry Resources, Inc.
Tutor Perini Corporation

Ohio River Mobility Group:
ACS Infrastructure Development, Inc.
Hochtief PPP Solutions North America, Inc.
Skanska Infrastructure Development, Inc.
Flatiron Constructors, Inc.
Dragados USA, Inc.

Ohio River Transportation Partners
Infrared Capital Partners Limited
Balfour Beatty Capital
Kiewit Development Company
Traylor Bros., Inc.
Massman Construction Co.

WVB East End Partners
Walsh Investors, LLC
VINCI Concessions S.A.S.
Bilfinger Berger PI International Holding GmbH

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Agreement Reached for State Purchase of Drumanard Estate

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced late Friday that an agreement has been reached for the state to purchase the Drumanard Estate, a key element of the planned East End Ohio River Bridge.

The state will pay $8.3 million for the estate. An approach to the bridge will be dug under the property, with the state placing a preservation easement on it.

The KYTC issued this release Friday:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 16, 2012) – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has contracted for purchase of the historic Drumanard Estate in Jefferson County, taking a significant step toward realization of a long-sought East End Bridge over the Ohio River.

The cabinet will pay $8.3 million for the approximately 50-acre property owned by Soterion Corp. Closing of the purchase is to occur on or before April 17.

An East End Bridge connecting Prospect, Ky., and Utica, Ind., is part of the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project. Kentucky and Indiana are splitting the project into two procurements – Indiana contracting for the East End crossing and Kentucky contracting for a downtown Louisville bridge and approaches on both sides of the Ohio River.

Under terms of the Record of Decision for the project, the approach to the East End Bridge will be tunneled beneath the Drumanard property. KYTC will place a preservation easement on the property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Informational Meetings This Week for Bridges Project

Meetings will be held this week in Louisville for companies that want to take part in the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Kentucky and Indiana officials announced in December that the two states would split responsibilities for the project, with Kentucky building a downtown Louisville bridge and reworking Spaghetti Junction. Indiana will handle construction of a bridge and approaches east of Louisville.

The Kentucky Department of Transportation will conduct its meeting Thursday at the Kentucky
International Convention Center. The Indiana Department of Transportation will hold a session on the eastern span this Friday at the same site.

“We’ll be presenting information about the procurement process and the project for the East End Bridge and its approaches. And we’ll also accept questions and try to educate the group that’s there,” said INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield.

The Kentucky Transporation Cabinet meeting is Thursday from 10:00am-4:00pm at the KICC; the Indiana meeting is Friday from 9:00am-noon.

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Kentuckians for Progress Seeks to Join, Dismiss River Fields Suit Over Bridges Project

A recently-formed group that aims to move the Ohio River Bridges Project forward is seeking to join, then end a lawsuit between conservation group River Fields and the Federal Highway Administration.

Kentuckians for Progress filed a request to join River Fields’ suit against the government today. River Fields asserts that the federal government has not properly justified the case for a two bridge project, and the group would like to block an east end bridge from being built.

Kentuckians for Progress attorney Victor Maddox says as it stands, the case does not adequately represent all of views of the community.

“I’m not saying the federal government hasn’t been vigilant, but it necessarily has a different perspective. The officials that are representing the Federal Highway Administration don’t live in the community,” he says.

Maddox says he’s not sure River Fields has proper standing to file the suit, and he could file a motion to dismiss the case if he’s allowed to join it. A statement from River Fields is forthcoming. The case is currently stalled as the federal government conducts new environmental impact studies on the bridges project.

Kentuckians for Progress is led by former Jefferson County Judge Executive Rebecca Jackson. Its membership includes union, business and development leaders.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Group Launches Campaign Against River Fields

A new advocacy group called Kentuckians for Progress is launching what it calls an education campaign that’s critical of the River Fields conservancy.

The group claims that River Fields is employing legal tactics to kill construction of a new bridge in eastern
Jefferson County.

Kentuckians for Progress is headed by former Jefferson County Judge-Executive Rebecca Jackson, who says River Fields is trying to litigate the project until it grows so burdensome for taxpayers that it cannot be completed.

Jackson’s group has launched a website and is running ads urging people to call River Fields and ask that it drop a federal lawsuit it filed against the project in 2009.

“We really want a groundswell in this community to show River Fields that we know what they’re doing. They are delaying, delaying, delaying, delaying and its time to stop delaying, drop the suit and let us progress and move forward,” she said.

That lawsuit, co-filed with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is currently in mediation.

River Fields board chair Lee Cory says the conservancy is being made a scapegoat for the failure of the project’s planners to find sufficient funding for it.

“The 2009 lawsuit has nothing to do with any of the delays in the project…to say that is the case is an effort on the part of whoever these people are to create the illusion that the project would be moving forward if River Fields wasn’t in the picture, and that is simply not the case,” she said.

River Fields has contended that a new downtown bridge would sufficiently ease traffic congestion, while an East End bridge would be environmentally destructive.

Full statement from River Fields’ Lee Cory:

This campaign is designed to make River Fields into a scapegoat for the failure of a project that is collapsing of its own weight. It is designed to intentionally delude the public into believing that the Bridges Project is moving forward. Right now River Fields or no River Fields, law suit or no law suit, there is not enough money to build this project. The law suit has nothing to do with delays in the project. The FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) is requiring the Supplemental Environmental Impact Study because the Governors of Kentucky and Indiana and the Mayor of Louisville suggested new plans.

A law suit filed in 2009 is nothing new. The parties, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation who is the lead plaintiff, and River Fields are in mediation.

Founded in 1959, River Fields is one of the oldest land conservation citizens groups in the country. With over 2,000 members from throughout the region, we have preserved 2,200 acres for the public forever, including Shelby Trails Park, a 400 acre park that opens next week. The claims on the website and in the newspaper ad are misleading. The reason the project is not moving forward is that there is not enough money.