News and Tribune

Clark County

June 6, 2010

Bridges work moves forward

Authority seeks tolling answers from Federal Highway Administration

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority canceled its June public meeting, but it did not leave a hole in its schedule.

Steve Schultz, executive director of the authority, along with the authority’s board members, went on a site tour of the proposed $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges Project on Thursday when its June public meeting was originally scheduled.

Site tour

The purpose of the tour, according to co-chairman of the bridges authority, Kerry Stemler, was to educate authority members on the complexity of the project and add clarity to the scope and breadth of the task as it stands.

Construction plans — as determined by a 2003 Federal Highway Administration Record of Decision — the bi-state authority is pursuing financing for include building an east-end bridge for Interstate 265 to cross the Ohio River, building a downtown bridge that will service I-65 and reconstructing Spaghetti Junction in Louisville.

“[It is] very important that all of the authority [members] understand the complexity of that project,” Stemler said. “This project touches a considerable amount of people in a tremendous area.”

The tour gave board members a more intrinsic frame of reference on the project and the time it has taken to get to where they are now, he said.

Strategic adviser

Another reason for the cancellation of the June board meeting is to allow the newly hired strategic adviser, KPMG LLP Infrastructure Advisory, to get caught up on the project’s details.

The New York-based audit, tax and advisory services company was hired last month to help determine a financing structure to pay for the project, as well as being tasked with examining cost projections and analyzing traffic and revenue studies.

“KPMG has gained a lot of traction in the last two meetings,” Schultz said.

In recent meetings, he said the company was given a detailed overview of the project, along with some of the company’s members conducting a partial site tour.

While the two groups are working together to gather information, it is still too far away to offer an idea on which strategy may be the most likely to finance the project.

“They will start with casting the net broadly,” Schultz said.

KPMG is expected to have outlines of a work plan that will help define the objectives of a strategic plan and present the outline at the authority’s next meeting, he said.

“The result [needs to be] a financial plan that looks good on paper, but is also financeable in the market,” he said.

But the objectives of the strategic plan will not be cemented that quickly.

“We will not have them defined by next meeting,” Schultz said.

In casting its wide net, KPMG will have a variety of funding options to investigate.

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