Louisville man offers up $10 million for new bridge
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Sherman Minton bridge closure continues to cause delays for drivers and it looks like that will be the case for weeks - if not months.
As crews continue to assess what repairs need to be made to the bridge before it can reopen, business leaders like David Jones are renewing calls for a completely new bridge.
The Humana co-founder is hoping that new bridge will be built in the East End.
"This is something that's needed to be done, but now we all understand the urgency of having it done because this community is suffering," said Jones, the retired chairman of Humana.
The East End bridge has been talked about for years, and is part of the proposed Ohio River Bridges project.
The proposed 6-lane bridge would carry traffic from I-265 over the Ohio River to Indiana, just north of Utica.
Jones says he feels so strongly about building the new bridge that he's willing to lend his own money to start the construction process.
"I said in my plan that I would lend $10 million because I believe in these bridges, I believe in our community, and I believe in action," said Jones.
After receiving a letter from Jones, Governor Beshear released the following statement:
"David Jones and I discussed general ideas about accelerating construction of the East End bridge. I applaud Mr. Jones' interest in getting the Ohio River Bridges project moving. The entire project has come a long way in the last 18 months because of the cooperation between Gov. Daniels, Mayor Fischer and myself. I hope to discuss a number of issues with the President next week while he is in the area, and the Ohio River Bridges project will be one of those issues."
Mayor Greg Fischer also released a statement:
"I share the frustration with the delays caused by the closure of the Sherman Minton and the many decades our community has been trying to start the Ohio River Bridges Project. WIthin the past few months, Gov. Beshear, Gov. Daniels and I have reduced the cost of the project by $1.2 billion. Within the next two weeks, the inspection of the Sherman Minton is expected to be completed, at which time we will understand the various options our community faces. In the meantime, the two governors and myself, along with key legislative leaders, will work overtime to ensure the bridges project is on track to start construction in Fall 2012. These bridges are about jobs - not just construction jobs -- but jobs for the broader regional economy. The relevance of our city and region as a center of logistics and transportation are at stake,"says Mayor Greg Fischer.
Jones is proposing tolls for that bridge to cover whatever money state and federal funding won't.
The Ohio River Project also calls for building another downtown bridge.
The plan still requires approval from the Federal Highway Administration and Congress before work can begin.
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