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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)

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Local News Next Louisville

New Mayor's Power Over Bridges Project Will Likely Be Limited

Candidates for mayor of Louisville have expressed interest in controlling part of the Ohio River Bridges Project. But that may not be possible, as decisions about the project are made by the bi-state bridges authority.

Authority co-chair Kerry Stemler says the body will work with the new mayor to put together a timeline for construction that will affect tolls and the overall cost of the project. So calls for low tolls from Democrat Greg Fischer and Republican Hal Heiner can be heard.

Independent Jackie Green favors shelving the project to build better public transit. Stemler says that, or any other redesign, likely can’t happen at the mayor’s behest.

“This project is too big and too important for any one individual to stand in his way,” he says. “If an elected official in either state changes tomorrow or after the elections, then we’ll try our best to work with that particular individual.”

Green has proposed denying permits or services to hinder the project. Stemler says two new bridges and a reworked Spaghetti Junction will happen, and both major party candidates support the plan.

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Local News

Bi-State Bridges Authority to Meet Tuesday

The Bi-State Ohio River Bridges Authority will have its first meeting Tuesday afternoon in Louisville. The 14-member panel consists of seven members from Kentucky and seven from Indiana.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesperson Chuck Wolfe says the panel was created because Kentucky officials started to realize the cost of the project was exceeding what could be raised by traditional methods, such as the gas tax.

“It’s just not realistic to think the legislature in Kentucky would consent to have roughly a third of the road fund spent on one single project in Jefferson County,” says Wolfe.

The primary task of the authority is to decide on another funding method for the four-plus billion dollar project.

Wolfe says its first meeting will mostly be organizational, deciding on by-laws, a meeting schedule and a small staff.