Beshear & Fischer Make A Bridges Announcement

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Fischer just made an announcement that they plan to explore “cost cutting’ options for the Ohio River Bridges Nightmare, saving more than $500 million.

Check the release from Beshear’s office:

The leaders also signaled their desire to keep the Sherman Minton Bridge (I-64) and Clark Memorial Bridge (US 31) toll free.

The major cost savings for the project, which currently has an estimated price tag of $4 billion, could come from changes in these key areas:

Rebuilding Spaghetti Junction in the existing location rather than move it south

Reducing the East End bridge, roadway and tunnel from six lanes to four lanes, with the option to add two lanes later if traffic demand warrants

Completing the Big Four Bridge pedestrian walkway and bike path as an alternative to including pedestrian and bike paths on the new downtown bridge

In addition, the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority will explore other cost-saving solutions in design, construction and financing by soliciting private-sector ideas at an industry innovation forum next month.

“Now is the time to dig deeper and move faster to make it a reality,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are firmly committed to getting the job done and done right. Let’s start the new year with a firm commitment to reduce the costs of the project.”

“The key to our success moving forward is a lean design that meets our needs at the lowest cost,” said Gov. Daniels. “Our ability to move with creativity and innovation will reduce costs and, ultimately, the tolls to make this project happen. It’s time to unleash the power of the private sector.”

“Time is money,” added Mayor Fischer. “One estimate suggests that every month of delay costs $10 million. The faster and smarter we move forward, the more we can make those checks payable to ourselves.”

The cost-cutting plans are the result of a continuing commitment by both states and the Bridges Authority to complete the project in the most financially responsible way. The two governors have challenged their transportation staffs and consultants to find ways to reduce the project’s cost and accelerate its progress.

The plans will require further study and consultation with federal officials. But the leaders believe the changes will reduce the overall environmental impact of the project, meet the established Purpose and Need and avoid any additional delay.

Head spinning yet?

UPDATE: Here’s what the Say NO To Bridge Tolls folks have to say:

Shawn Reilly of Say NO to Bridge Tolls said “This is a victory for our NO TOLLS campaign. We have been fighting for almost a year asking for this project to be scaled down and built without tolls. The Governors and Mayor finally agree with us that this project is too big and too costly and we are glad that they recognize we can’t afford to toll our existing infrastructure”

Dan Borsch of Say NO to Bridge Tolls said “This is move in the right direction for the Bridges Project, now all we need to agree on is keeping the Kennedy Bridge Toll Free and building this project in affordable phases so that nothing will need to be tolled.”

Borsch also said “We call on officials to stop making backroom deals and to involve the public in a discussion of how to right size this project to best create jobs, reduce congestion and improve safety.”

Peep the bits about an “Industry Innovation Forum” and keeping the Sherman Minton and Clark Memorial Bridges toll-free after the jump…

Industry Innovation Forum Planned for February

The industry innovation forum is the key next step in the cost-savings process. The two governors have asked the Bridges Authority, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Indiana Department of Transportation to co-host a conference in February for the design, construction and finance industries to pursue the most modern and cost-effective means of completing the project.

“We will bring together the best minds in the transportation world to provide the types of ideas we’ve been exploring to drive down costs and get the project completed as quickly as possible,” said Bridges Authority Chairman Charles Buddeke.

Authority Co-Chair Kerry Stemler said, “The forum will also provide a venue for the local construction industry, disadvantaged business enterprises and labor leaders to connect with major companies in transportation infrastructure to discuss future partnerships and employment needs on this important project.”

Goal to Keep Sherman Minton, Clark Memorial Bridges Toll-Free

Along with further exploration of cost savings, the leaders said they favor a financing plan that would not require tolls on the Sherman Minton and Clark Memorial bridges. Any tolling should be linked to the project’s improvements in cross-river mobility from the expanded Kennedy Bridge downtown and the new East End bridge, the leaders said.

Beshear, Daniels and Fischer also said they support the Authority’s targets for minimizing tolls and starting construction in August 2012.

The three leaders praised the Kentucky General Assembly’s leadership for passing legislation that led to the creation of the Bridges Authority and the members and staff of the Bridges Authority for making more progress in 10 months than this project has achieved in the past 10 years.

“These outstanding citizens who volunteer their time are working to chart a course that will make a difference for the region for generations to come,” Gov. Beshear said.

“The Bridges Authority has shown exceptional leadership in its work to find new and creative ways to advance the project, which is so important to this region and to our two states,” added Gov. Daniels. “We are truly united in this endeavor, and the Authority exemplifies our spirit of partnership.”

13 thoughts on “Beshear & Fischer Make A Bridges Announcement

  1. Wait a minute. The powers that be have told us that the bridgeS plan CANNOT be changed because it would add 5 more years to the process. Now it can be changed? Were they lying then or lying now? Build what we need. Build what we can afford. Build the East End bridge. And see what happens.

  2. Amen Mark. I also hope they mean it when they say they’ll complete the Big 4 hike/bike bridge. I can’t believe KY did our side and there’s no funding or plan to complete the IN side.

    Not building a bridge downtown would sure save some buckaroos since the funding is the only thing they seem to care about…. not the short or long term results for the community at large.

  3. Who’s spin is worse: ORBP knuckleheads or Say NO to Bridge Tolls? It’s getting confusing, as I guess we always figured it would.

    At some point, we might even openly consider actual transportation solutions as part of the deal.

  4. Protip: Just read it, look at it a few times, maybe blink a few times, then shrug your shoulders like a confused old man, maybe furl your brow.

    Then go back to playing Tetris or Angry Birds.

    Cause these are all the things I do.

  5. They said that any changes would require opening the record of decision, and now that is not an issue. How much more ridiculous can they get. The idea of downsizing the east end bridge is just ridiculous, especially since the traffic count on the Kennedy has been steadily decreasing for the past decade; still over capacity, but decreasing.
    I thought Mitch Daniels was the most intelligent person involved in this debacle, oh well…

  6. It is far too early for any of us to start playing “The World Turned Upside Down” andordering cake. As Mark notes, today’s fluff press piece does little more than explicate the extent of the endless lies spun to date. The big dogs need to be transparent and show the cocktail napkin agreement signed by Ray LaHood, and if they do so, we need to begin putting the screws to the idiocy of the unneeded downtown bridge. I don’t trust the Bridges Authority as far as I can throw (Joe) Regan, because it’s like (Gipper) Reagan said: Trust, but verify.

  7. What Roger said. And both guys’ surnames are spelled as ‘Reagan’.

    I am a bit too flummoxed to provide my official comment (as if anyone cared) at this time. Maybe tomorrow. Too busy retooling LouHI.

  8. “Reducing the East End bridge, roadway and tunnel from six lanes to four lanes” is exactly the wrong thing to do. If anything it should be expanded to eight lanes to carry the truck traffic that should never go through downtown.

  9. All talk, no build, let’s line a few more consultants pockets.
    Amazing we can build that over priced arena, the draft dodger museum/peace center, but we can’t manage to build a couple of bridges, which is something useful to the entire metro area, that actually contributes to the louisville economy

  10. Governors instead of playing Simon says, play – River Fields says go from 6 lanes to 4 , River Fields says go from 4 lanes to 2, River Fields says go from 2 lanes to 0

    If they were serious they would eliminate the $250 million unneeded Tunnel from the east end bridge approach. This proves to me that Riverfields is still running this circus. How can they keep the tunnel while taking away lanes?

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