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Governors, Mayor Celebrate Legislation Aimed at Financing Ohio River Bridges

Wednesday July 15, 2009

Envisions extraordinary cooperation on bridges across Ohio River

Gov. Steve Beshear, accompanied by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, today ceremonially signed new legislation aimed at finding a way to finance the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project.

Gov. Beshear said the legislation, which he proposed to a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly, envisions extraordinary cooperation on “mega-projects” that serve both neighboring states and is an essential step toward financing such projects.

A prime example would be the proposed Bridges Project, which calls for two new bridges, plus reconstruction of the Kennedy Interchange in downtown Louisville. The initial financial plan for the project set the estimated cost at $4.1 billion, of which $2.9 billion would be Kentucky’s share.

“Governor Daniels and I recognize the importance of modern river crossings to both of our states. Kentucky and Indiana are quite literally at the hub of America’s interstate commerce,” Gov. Beshear said. “We also recognize that these are massive projects, too costly to be undertaken entirely by one state with only our traditional sources of transportation revenue.”

Indiana has $600 million already set aside for the projects thanks to Daniels’ 2006 Major Moves Toll Road initiative.

“Congratulations to Governor Beshear and his legislative colleagues. This legislation is an essential step forward toward investments that are critical to the economic prospects and quality of life for citizens of both states,” said Gov. Daniels. “With $600 million already set aside for this purpose, Indiana is ready to go to work.”

"We must build new bridges across the Ohio River," said Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. "Thanks to the many people who helped move this important legislation through the Kentucky General Assembly.

House Bill 3 provides for the creation of a Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority.

The 11-member authority, which Gov. Beshear expects to appoint by fall, will have the mission of facilitating the construction, financing, operation and oversight of major projects by entering into bi-state agreements with Indiana and by creating bi-state authorities.

The state authority also can create local authorities for projects entirely within Kentucky.