Is economic impact study on Bridges project in limbo?
Louisville, KY (WDRB News) -- There has been a delay on the start of an economic impact study on the Ohio River Bridges Project.
The Ohio River Bridges Authority has said tolls will have to be part of the plan to pay for the project.
Groups opposed to tolling have pushed the authority to conduct an economic impact study. "Our assumption is that tolls will be bad for the economy," says Shawn Reilly of the group Say No to Bridge Tolls. "Tolls will be bad for business, tolls will be bad for jobs, but we would like to see it in writing in an official study."
Reilly thought there was going to be an economic impact study. "We had lobbied them for months, asking them to do an economic impact study," he says. "We finally got them to agree to it, we thought we had them on the right track, now we've learned they've gone back on their word."
The Indiana Department of Transportation was to oversee the study which was to be completed in November. But its lawyers raised legal questions and now it appears such a study is on hold.
"Our hope is that what we will do will be the equivalent of an economic impact study," says Sandra Frazier, a member of the authority. She believes the issue of tolls and their impact will still be addressed in some form. "As a review of Indiana laws we will have to do a request for information which would actually give us the information an economic study would have," says Frazier, "but it will come to us in a different form, rather than one with deadlines of a proposal."
The Bridges Authority is expected to address the issue at its next meeting in October.
Meantime those who are opposed to tolling continue their lobbying efforts. "We have a meeting tomorrow scheduled with Congressman Yarmuth," says Reilly. "We are going to talk with him about the tolls and how they are going to affect the community and the bridges project as a whole, and our view that it needs to be built in phases and without tolls."
Frazier says she believes this latest development will not impact the start of construction of the Bridges Project, which is scheduled for next August.