Meeting held to discuss part of Ohio River Bridges Project - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Meeting held to discuss part of Ohio River Bridges Project

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)---Before Kentucky and Indiana give final approval to contractors selected to oversee the Ohio River Bridges project, community members got their chance to weigh in, particularly on the East End Bridge. 

In Mid-November, WVB East End Partners were given preliminary approval by the Indiana Finance Committee for the project, which some people have been looking forward to for years.

"Our community will begin to realize the positive economic benefits resulting from this project for years to come," says Matt Hall, the Vice-President for Economic Development for One Southern Indiana.

"Create jobs, economic development and certainly 100% positive. So that is an excellent project," says Jim Keith, the Executive Director for Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau.  

However, not everyone voicing their opinions on Saturday was so sure of the benefits the project would have.

WVB East End Partners says they could complete the East End Bridge by 2016 at a cost of 763 million dollars, 23 percent below previous estimates.

Officials have said the lower costs would likely allow for lower tolls for motorists using the bridge, but some of the people attending Saturday's meeting say tolling is still the major issue.

Clarksville Councilman Paul Fetter says an economic impact study didn't show positive numbers.

"The study found for the southern Indiana communities in the I-65 corridor, tolling created a negative impact in excess of 7 billion dollars over 30 years," says Clarksville Councilman Paul Fetter.

Members of the group Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation, known as CART, filed a lawsuit against the Ohio River Bridges project in September.

While people with the Ohio River Bridges Project say it will be beneficial for the area, members of CART still worry tolling will create a barrier between Louisville and southern Indiana. 

"Both New Albany and Jeffersonville and Clarksville are going to be seriously impacted as we've got reduced shoppers and clients coming from Louisville because of bridge tolls, and increased congestion on the 2nd Street and Sherman Minton bridges," says David Coyte, President of the Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation.

Kentucky is overseeing the downtown portion of the bridges project, while Indiana is handling the East End bridge.

On Monday, the Indiana Finance Authority will meet to consider final approval on the contractor for the East End bridge.

Governor Mitch Daniels will then make a final decision.

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