By DANIEL SUDDEATH
UTICA — As buildings are demolished and trees are cleared to make way for the east end connection of the Ohio River Bridges Project in Utica, much of the conversation has turned from what could be to what will be.
Doris James Snelling doesn’t support the project mainly because of the effect it will have on farm land that’s been in her family since 1948. A portion of her brother’s property is also being purchased by the government to make way for the east end bridge in Clark County.
During an open house on the bridges Wednesday, Snelling conceded her input no longer has much of a chance of keeping the $2.6 billion total project from moving forward.
She always felt there were other ways of accomplishing the end goal of providing another connection with Kentucky without numerous private properties having to be bought or condemned.
“It’s just sad that they take the long way around to do this, and waste money,” Snelling said.
It was estimated that about 300 people attended the open house in Utica following Tuesday’s public meeting in Louisville on the east-end bridge that drew more than 600 residents.
“The general amount of people just want to see what’s going on,” said Project Manager David Sikorski.
He, along with several other bridges and transportation officials, answered questions from the public during the open house. Large design maps depicting the east-end bridge approaches were displayed throughout the John Nobel Woods Community Center.
Some crowded near the maps and traced where the bridge would be located in relation to their property, or land belonging to friends or family. Others watched videos on the design of the bridge and talked with neighbors about the impact the project will have on their community.
As part of the Ohio River Bridges Project, Indiana is charged with constructing the east-end bridge and its approaches, which when completed will connect Utica with Prospect, Ky.
A downtown Louisville bridge and a rebuilt Spaghetti Junction are other components of the project.
With an April 1 deadline to be met, crews have been clearing trees to make way for the span in Indiana and Kentucky for several weeks. Sikorski said so far the east-end work is running smoothly.
The plans have been discussed for so long that most people have a good understanding of the project, Sikorski said. Still, the open houses allow those associated with the project to meet with the public and learn about their concerns, he continued.
There will be more meetings as additional work commences, though the dates of for those forums haven’t been determined, Sikorski said.