Citing the closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge, leaders of the Louisville Metro Council Transportation and Public Works Committee have drafted a resolution calling for an expedited construction schedule for the Ohio River Bridges Project.
Councilman Robin Engel, R-22, and Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, who head the transportation committee, drafted the non-binding measure to encourage local, state and federal officials to become more involved with the behemoth public works project.
City lawmakers will be joined by some of the bridges projects big name supporters, including former Jefferson County Judge Executive Rebecca Jackson, Humana, Inc. founder David Jones and David Nicklies, former chairman of the Bridges Coalition.
Engel and Hamilton say other elected officials and community leaders must step up to push the $3.6 billion project forward.
“The Ohio River Bridges Project is essential to interstate commerce and will create thousands of desperately needed jobs, open up significant economic development opportunities and save motorists over $1.6 Billion in fuel and maintenance costs over a 20 year period,” the resolution says.
It has several co-sponsors already, including Council President Jim King, D-10, and many expect it to pass easily.
The council resolution also calls out the conservationist group River Fields, asking the organization to cease all legal actions causing that it alleges are delaying the project.
“River Fields along with the National Trust for Historic Preservation have obstructed the progress of the Ohio River Bridges Project for decades through numerous legal challenges that have resulted in significant cost increases and time delays,” the resolution says.
The debate around the bridges project has been reignited by traffic woes and frustrated motorists, who have seen additional delays due to the recent shut down of the Sherman Minton, which connects Kentucky to Indiana along Interstate 64.
The closure of the 50-year-old span has made political waves on a local and national level, with increasing calls by residents and lawmakers for President Obama to see the structure for himself.
A spokesman with Congressman John Yarmuth’s office says there is no new information from the White House on whether the president will be visiting the area, but that Yarmuth has “done everything he can to push” Mr. Obama to do so.