On Mythical Ohio River Bridges and Such

Steve Magruder of Louisville History & Issues sent a letter to the Courier-Journal today in response to the paper’s editorial “Deciding who decides” – where the editorial board gives the appearance of ruminating on how the Ohio River Bridges Project will be financed.

Since the C-J is unlikely to publish anything critical of their stance, we’re publishing Steve’s letter in full.

Editorial board pretends its pet monstrosity is going forward

Re: “Deciding who decides” editorial…

Isn’t it quaint to see how the C-J editorial board acts as if this monstrosity of a bridges project is happily going forward, as if there’s no real local opposition to the current plan’s extreme girth and needless destructiveness, and the only question before us is where Kentucky’s share of $4.1 billion is going to come from?

The C-J editorial board needs to face reality: The Ohio River Bridges Project, as it currently stands, is dead. Accordingly, the idea of tolls is dead on arrival. The more the public inspects this bridges plan, the more people realize that most of it simply isn’t needed for enhancing regional transportation. So why pay a lot over the long term for development we don’t want or need? Wouldn’t that be, um, frivolous spending? I have a strong hunch that taxpayers are sick and tired of being treated as spendthrifts.

Read the rest after the jump…

With a little bit of imagination and a considerable amount of political courage, most of the current bridges project can be and should be stripped away, so it can actually be affordable, using ongoing state funds allocated for transportation development.

Change the plan as follows: Eliminate the unnecessary second downtown bridge — Spaghetti Junction is the cause of traffic bottlenecks, not the the lack of a second bridge. Eliminate the unnecessary east end tunnel — the “historic” building in the way of the east end bridge approach can be moved. Build the east end bridge as currently designed. Reconfigure Spaghetti Junction within its current footprint to eliminate traffic weaving — destruction of portions of Butchertown isn’t necessary. Refurbish the Kennedy bridge. Put off the decision to “86” I-64 at the waterfront until after the east end bridge is complete and a live traffic study can be conducted.

I am confident that this reconfigured plan (or something like it) is the responsible, affordable regional transportation plan for the Louisville metro area. But what this community needs above all else is an open conversation on the subject, without elites clamping down on alternatives before they are fully and faithfully considered.

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