Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Federal Approval for Changes to Bridges Project Expected Soon

In a letter to U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth, D-Ky., and Todd Young, R-In., the Federal Highway Administration says it expects to approve a new environmental study for the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, which is required for the project to move forward.

The Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was initiated after Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer revised the plan and introduced several measures to reduce the cost for building two new bridges across the Ohio River and reconfiguring Spaghetti Junction.

“It is very encouraging that federal approval for the Bridges Project is imminent,” Yarmuth said in a news release. “Throughout this process, I have asked for and received assurances from President Obama and U.S. Transportation Secretary (Ray) LaHood that the approval process will be expedited. With this, we now know the project is expected to be approved—bringing us another step closer to construction getting under way this year.”

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Kentucky, Indiana Seek To Intervene In Bridges Suit

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation have asked to intervene in a lawsuit filed by two groups over the Ohio River Bridges Project.

The groups—River Fields and the National Trust for Historic Preservation—filed suit against the Federal Highway Administration claiming it didn’t follow federal law when it approved the project in 2003.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said the motion to intervene was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Louisville because the lawsuit “threatens to delay the project and drive up costs.”

River Fields and the National Trust filed the lawsuit against the FHWA in September 2009.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Indiana Department of Transportation have participated in legal proceedings related to the case but have not been formal parties.

The suit also prompted the creation of Kentuckians for Progress, which has mounted a public campaign aimed at pressuring the groups to drop the litigation. It’s also seeking to join the lawsuit and dismantle it.

(Information for this story also came from the Associated Press)

Environment Local News

Conservation Groups Sue Over Bridges Project

The local environmental group River Fields and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are suing the Federal Highway Administration. The groups want the government to reconsider approval of the massive transportation project, which they claim was granted illegally. The plaintiffs have issued statements saying the project should be reevaluated since it was approved six years ago. They also say the highway administration, which has not yet commented publicly on the suit, failed to follow environmental review guidelines. The Bridges project has been the focus of controversy in Louisville, both for its design as well as its expected cost.