State is sticking to original Ohio River Bridges Project plan - WDRB 41 Louisville News

State is sticking to original Ohio River Bridges Project plan

The state says it's sticking to the original plan for the Ohio River Bridges Project despite lawmakers' calls for a plan B. We reveal what could make the state change its tune.

How about $200 million in federal money the state was counting on for various projects. Money the state says might not be there because of a budget shortfall. If that happens, the state would have to reassess the project.

"We are approaching the project today exactly as we have approached it for the last several years in terms of approaching it as two bridges, one project," said transportation cabinet member Mike Hancock.

Mike Hancock with the Transportation Cabinet told a panel of lawmakers Wednesday the bridges project is fully-funded for the next two years. Meaning there is no reason to deviate. At least for now.

"The biggest single issue is funding," said Hancock.

Material costs like asphalt have more than doubled since December. Fuel costs are up.

"As we look long term we are going to need every tool in our tool box to fund the project," said Hancock.

And the state has no long-term way to pay for the project that calls for two bridges and an overhaul of Spaghetti Junction.

With the price of fuel and material going up the dollar simply doesn't go as far as it used to. There is a chance $200 million in federal money simply won't be there. Adding pressure to the state to possibly rethink the project.

"You're presenting some really harsh facts today and it makes us question whether this project is doable," said Rep. Jim Wayne (D) Louisville.

"Until we come up with an authority we might as well face it. I don't think these bridges will ever be built until we establish some tolls," said Rep. Hubert Collins (D) Wittensvile.

The state says changing the scope of project now would be costly and could delay the project for years.

Transportation officials will learn in October if the federal dollars will be there. Until then they have no reason to change course.

"We currently have no plans for a plan B so to speak. Our current focus are waking moments are spent on delivering this project as its envisioned," said Hancock.

The state plans to ask lawmakers to allocate more money for the project in the future. That could prove to be a difficult task in a state that is already facing a large money woes.

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