May 30, 2013 – Louisville and Southern Indiana business leaders provided the “steady drumbeat of support” that helped get Kentucky and Indiana to the construction phase of the Ohio River Bridges Project, Gov. Steve Beshear told more than 250 of the region’s top business leaders today.
“You know that communities that sit on the fence, wait for someone else to solve their problems and hope for the best usually find themselves sitting on the fence and watching the cars – and the people and the jobs – flow to other places down the road,” Beshear said during the meeting sponsored by Greater Louisville Inc., the metro chamber of commerce.
“That’s why you nagged and nettled and pushed and prodded until we got the deal done.”
The governor, along with project leaders, discussed construction plans, the accelerated schedule and the necessity of tolling to pay for the needed improvements.
Beshear said that construction is moving forward on both crossings of the Bridges Project, creating hundreds of jobs and economic opportunities. “That work means good-paying jobs for our region – and that’s creating a stronger transportation infrastructure that is already creating economic opportunities for our future,” he said.
Beshear called on business leaders to continue their supporting role as the project moves to construction, saying it’s important to stay informed of traffic impacts and make necessary adjustments to keep business moving.
Walsh Construction and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have taken an innovative, collaborative approach to shave more than 18 months off the construction schedule for the Downtown Crossing. Part of the solution is the simultaneous work on the three segments of the crossing – rebuilding the Kennedy Interchange, building the new bridge and overhauling the Kennedy Bridges, and revamping the I-65 connections on the Indiana side.
Walsh’s solution is to complete the new downtown bridge by April 2016 so they can shift traffic off the Kennedy Bridge and completely overhaul that 50-year-old bridge. The Downtown Crossing will be completed when both bridges are open –the new bridge carrying six lanes of northbound I-65 traffic and the rebuilt Kennedy Bridge carrying six lanes of southbound traffic.
Tolls have become a necessary part of major transportation infrastructure projects across America, Beshear said. Most states have some toll roads and more projects are coming on line each year.
To help pay for the Bridges Project, a bi-state group is working to develop a tolling policy that’s fair and reasonable, covers our financial commitments and limits the impact on other important transportation projects throughout our two states.
“I’ve made my position clear: Keep tolls as low as possible, especially on our most frequent commuters,” Beshear said. “I’m confident the Tolling Body will deliver.”