Govs. Beshear and Daniels strike deal to split cost of Ohio River Bridges project

12/29/2011 02:29 PM

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced Thursday that each state will cover the cost of one new bridge so construction of both can begin in 2012.

Beshear said Kentucky will be responsible for paying for and overseeing the construction of the new downtown bridge between Louisville and New Albany, Ind. Meanwhile, Indiana would handle the construction of a new bridge between the East End of Louisville to connect the Gene Snyder Freeway to Indiana’s portion of I-265, the Lee Hamilton Expressway.

The move will help keep the project at $2.6 billion for the construction of both new spans. That’s down from an initial estimate of $4.1 billion, which included a wider scope for the project.

“By playing to each state’s strengths, we are lowering the cost of the project, increasing competition, and speeding the construction of these critical bridges,” Beshear said in a statement.

Now the big question remains how to pay for it. The Ohio River Bridges project lost out on a $100 million federal grant. But Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer recently told Pure Politics that he was confident the project would get other grants and federal funding, as well as state funding.

Kentucky lawmakers will decide how to spend its road money during the budget process that begins in January.

In addition, tolls will likely be a part of the bridge financing.

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville said in a statement Thursday that the new agreement is a key development in getting the project done.

“This appears to be fair and reasonable for both states, and splitting up the project lowers costs for everyone,” Yarmuth said. “With this hurdle cleared, the next major step is for the Kentucky General Assembly to approve the plan.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.