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Fed Judge Clears Way for Lawsuit Challenging Bridges

Thu August 30, 2012 - Midwest Edition
CEG


A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit to go forward challenging whether all federal regulations were properly addressed for the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project.
A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit to go forward challenging whether all federal regulations were properly addressed for the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit to go forward challenging whether all federal regulations were properly addressed for the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II on Aug. 8 wrote that the litigation’s progress shouldn’t delay any contractual or construction activities.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the environmental group River Fields sued in 2009. The groups questioned whether federal environmental, historic preservation and other regulations had been properly followed for the project.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe told The Courier-Journal that the cabinet expects to award a construction contract for the downtown Louisville section on Dec. 15.

The project will include construction of new bridges across the Ohio River between Louisville and Jeffersonville, Ind., and between Prospect, Ky., and Utica, Ind.

Heyburn issued a stay halting the litigation in the spring because so many parts of the project were unsettled.

Federal highway officials have signed off on the scaled-back bridges plan that allows Kentucky and Indiana to charge drivers who use the Kennedy Bridge and two new spans. The exact tolls have not been decided, however.

Wolfe said some of the planned demolition that had been on hold will now proceed.

Robert Griffith, a River Fields spokesman, said lifting of the stay means that “the parties are now going to brief the case in the normal way.’’

The eastern bridge is scheduled to be finished in 2017, with the new downtown span following a year later.