Thursday January 18, 2007
State of City address focuses on top priorities for Louisville’s long-term future
In his annual State of the City address, Mayor Jerry Abramson today called for a renewed commitment to build two new bridges and replace Spaghetti Junction, urging out-of-the-box thinking and creative financing solutions to reduce the project’s 17-year timeline and $4 billion price tag.
“When we consider challenges to be resolved over the next several years that will truly transform Louisville’s future, this project in my judgment leads the list,” Abramson told hundreds of people at the Downtown Louisville Rotary Club meeting at the Galt House.
Abramson focused on four key catalysts that will fuel economic development, improve quality of life and help define the Louisville of tomorrow:
- Building two new bridges across the Ohio River and rebuilding the Kennedy Interchange
- Expanding Louisville’s park system throughout suburban areas
- Continuing the downtown renaissance beyond the new waterfront arena and Museum Plaza
- Raising educational attainment levels to create a more competitive workforce
Building the bridges and a new interchange is vital to both the transportation needs and economic future of the entire two-state region, Abramson said.
Without the investment, the three existing bridges and tangled downtown interchanges will soon be overwhelmed and “the flow of goods, services and people throughout our entire region will grind to a halt at a Louisville bottleneck.”
Abramson called on community, state and national leaders to find ways to shore up existing revenue sources for the project and look for other creative financing solutions that will “push the fast-forward button.”
“The sooner we build it, the less it will cost. And the sooner our region will reap the rewards of a state-of-the-art transportation network,” Abramson said.
Downtown renaissance, parks expansion to accelerate
The mayor predicted downtown’s renaissance will continue beyond the new waterfront arena and Museum Plaza skyscraper, turning the city’s heart into a 24/7 community with more residents, entertainment options and retail offerings.
The economic impact of the downtown’s growth will have a ripple effect throughout the city and region, Abramson said.
“What happens in downtown Louisville does not just stay in downtown Louisville,” he said. “Study after study in city after city show that strong downtowns change the chemistry of communities. They pay off community-wide in greater prosperity, innovation and quality of life.”
In a similar fashion, Abramson said the $60 million-plus expansion of Louisville’s park system, known as the City of Parks initiative, will help transform and define more than just the neighborhoods along the Floyds Fork corridor and near Jefferson Memorial Forest where parkland is being added.
Raising the bar on education
Abramson called on citizens to join him as advocates for educational advancement, including raising reading levels and increasing the number of college graduates.
“Bricks-and-mortar projects can transform the landscape of cities. But education can be a catalyst that transforms the lives of individuals and families – and a force that shapes economic development and job prospects for our city and our region,” he said.
Abramson said it will take continued resolve from schools, universities, businesses, parents, elected officials and neighborhood leaders to accelerate Louisville’s progress in educational attainment.