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May 23, 2012

Bridges project specifics emerging

Tolling schedule remains unchanged

LOUISVILLE — Details for the construction of the Ohio River Bridges Project were announced Tuesday.

The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority held its quarterly meeting and provided a number of updates on the progress of the Ohio River Bridges Project. The project’s planners announced they expect to receive a record-of-decision by the Federal Highway Administration by late June, issue their final requests for proposals about a month later and award contracts in November or December.

But before a contract is awarded, a number of issues on how Indiana and Kentucky will pay for and construct the $2.6 billion plan to build a downtown bridge, east-end bridge and reconstruct Spaghetti Junction need to be addressed.

Development agreement

To ensure that both states continue to work together to complete the project, they are working to establish a development agreement. Kendra York, public finance director for the state of Indiana, said she hopes the development agreement will iron out some of the issues like how the decisions on tolling scenarios will be made and who will set those rates.

“I think we’ll both want that comfort going into the finalization of our procurement[s],” she said.

Bridges Authority Executive Director Steve Schultz said the agreement is likely to be approved soon.

“We can suspect in the next weeks and months the discussions of this development agreement will take place in earnest to hopefully get a signed agreement before the end of the summer,” he said. “Really, I think it will provide a basis for the project holding together these two separate procurements.”

He added it will help determine the schedule for construction, ownership of properties across state lines, the project’s budgets and environmental matters between the two states.

“Then, of course, [it will decide] the all-importation tolling operations and how that’s going to work from a bistate government perspective,” Schultz said.

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