Louisville transportation group to appeal ruling in bridges lawsuit
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A group opposing the Ohio River Bridges Project plans to appeal a federal judge's ruling that dismissed a lawsuit over the $2.6 billion construction venture between Kentucky and Indiana.
The Louisville-based Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation, which advocates for public transit and other alternatives to automobile use, filed the notice of appeal Sept. 13 with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The coalition, or CART, argues in court documents that U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II erred by not considering evidence related to changing traffic demand over the past decade and socio-economic impacts from the project, which calls for new spans across the river and a reconfigured interchange where interstates 64, 65 and 71 converge near downtown Louisville.
In addition, CART alleges that the project's purpose and need was "vague and overbroad and used to ratify pre-selected political decisions rather being a product of agency expertise and was not due deferential judicial review. Reasonable alternatives for geographically distant locations were not sufficiently analyzed or were arbitrarily discarded."
Other issues raised in CART's appeal statement include the states' failure to take a "hard look" at runoff from de-icing chemicals and water quality and the addition of "disproportionate tolls" on poor and minority residents in violation of the U.S. Civil Rights Act.
In July, Heyburn ruled that the states and federal government "reasonably exercised their discretion" when making decisions about the project, including its scope and financing, and rebutted CART's claims.
Two other defendants – Louisville's River Fields and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C. – brought the lawsuit in 2009 and settled their portions of it last January.
CART promotes "environmentally sustainable, socially just, multi-modal transportation that provides affordable access and regional connections to all race and income groups," according to its website.
Kentucky "will respond in court at the appropriate time," said Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Will Wingfield, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said: "We respect Judge Heyburn's opinion and the judicial process. As such, INDOT will not comment on any potential appeal."
Construction is underway on the project.
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