Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Louisville: The Case for 8664

A few weeks ago, JC Stites, co-founder of 8664 invited me down to Louisville to talk about the proposal and take a first hand tour of the riverfront. Even as a Louisville native, I had never really walked around there, which shows you how disconnected the city is from the river. The experience is eye-opening. So I thought I’d share some of what I saw with you.

First, here’s a short 40 second video of JC talking about 8664 and what they hope to accomplish:

First a bit of history. There’s long been a desire on the part of many, especially in Southern Indiana, to connect the Indiana and Kentucky legs of I-265 by building a new bridge in the East End. Among other benefits, this would shorten travel times for many to major East End employment centers and open up large amount of already industrially zoned land, including an old army depot, for development. The logic of this connection can be confirmed with a simple look at the map.

However, prior to city-county consolidation, Mayor Jerry Abramson strongly opposed an East End bridge, fearing it would allow traffic to bypass downtown Louisville. He insisted on a new downtown bridge instead. Also, the East End bridge would past through the most wealthy and influential suburbs of Louisville, notably Prospect, and residents there strongly opposed an East End bridge. Hoosiers were adamantly in favor an East End bridge.

As a result, the two sides compromised and agreed to build both an East End and downtown bridge, under the fiction of a “two bridges, one project” solution. The problem is that the price tag is outrageously high – $4.1 billion and getting higher by the day. This is likely the desired outcome for East Enders and their fake environmental group River Fields. They demanded ultra expensive features designed as a poison pills to kill the project.

A bigger problem came to light later. Namely the destructive impact the bridge would have on downtown Louisville. You may remember this graphic showing the immense scale of the redesigned Spaghetti Junction interchange on the Kentucky side of the river. Again, to put this in perspective, note the baseball stadium in the lower left:

It’s worth taking a step back and considering Louisville as a river city. It was originally founded as a portage point on the “falls of the Ohio”, a rapids area that was the only non-navigable point on the river. As with most cities, it’s waterfront was originally industrial and commercial, with all the negatives that implies, and the city turned its back on the filth and vice that filled the area. The river became cut off from the city, first by elevated railroad tracks, then by the elevated I-64 freeway.

Today, however, riverfront across America are being reclaimed as the old heavy industrial era passes, our rivers are cleaned up, and the water becomes valuable for recreational and other purposes. Today, the riverfront in Louisville is a wonder and beautiful area:

There are so many cities across America with glorified creeks that they are nevertheless trying to reclaim as valuable riverfront parkland. My friends, this is what a real river looks like.

Unfortunately, Louisville has long been cut off from the river. While its downtown is only a stone’s throw from the riverfront, there’s almost no sense that it is there when you are in the city. Downtown and the West End are cut off from the river by a combination of a flood wall and a freeway. The only time most people in Louisville is ever see the river is when they drive across a bridge or visit the Belvedere, a sort of elevated public plaza.

To see why, just check out the photos of what blocks the riverfront today, right now:

That’s taken directly from under I-64. Here’s another:

Got flyovers?

Here’s another one showing the 9th St. ramp system:

Speaking of 9th St., it’s not just the river that’s cut off from downtown. The 9th St. corridor is a huge barrier between downtown and the West End:

Let’s just say that I highly doubt this shot of Main St. is likely to get featured in a Louisville tourist brochure.

It’s not just I-64. The expansion of Spaghetti means the widening of the I-65 approach through the hospital curve. Our friends at Broken Sidewalk put together fabulous coverage of this. Here’s a rendering they pulled from the bridges project materials:

There are a large number of buildings that will destroyed, including as Broken Sidewalk notes, “the Baer Fabrics Building, a small red brick 1880s building, a century old ice warehouse, part of the century-old Vermont American factory, and others. Maybe worse than demolition, the Billy Goat Strut apartments on Main Street and Hancock Street, one of the first redevelopment projects in town with some of the best historic architecture, will have a great view of the highway, which appears about 15 or 20 feet from its windows.”

To put in in perspective, here’s the current I-65 with the footprint of the new overlaid on it:

The road is more than doubling in width. The extensive damage to the urban fabric of the medial district area and Butchertown is big, but especially galling in light of what is happening in Prospect. There, the locals got together to hastily propose an estate for National Register inclusion so that the federally funded bridges project couldn’t harm it. Naturally the Drummond Estate happened to be in the path of the highway. So, in one of those poison pills I mentioned, a $250 million tunnel under the property was proposed. (The KYTC can’t even successfully bore a test tunnel at the site, so I’m not optimistic the actual tunnel is constructable for anything near $250 million).

But wait, as it turns out, the estate isn’t actually impacted by the path of the road at all:

Seeing the treatment of this suburban area versus downtown Louisville is mind-boggling.

8664 has a better idea. Instead of all this destruction, Louisville can:

  • Build the East End bridge as planned. (As an addition, I’d suggest ditching the tunnel).
  • Tear down I-64 from just east of 22nd St. to the Kennedy Bridge, replacing it with an at grade parkway.
  • Simplify Spaghetti Junction to remove un-needed ramps and reduce congestion.
  • Re-route I-64 over I-265 across the new East End bridge. Rename the current I-64 in the interior of that bypass as I-364.

This plan:

  • Saves a huge amount of money by eliminating a second bridge and extensive Spaghetti Junction reconstruction.
  • Avoids huge urban destruction in the area of Spaghetti Junction
  • Enables the city to exploit the riverfront as a recreational area, and reconnect downtown to the riverfront and West End.

The choice is very clear. Does Louisville want this:

Or this:

The answer seems like a no-brainer to me. 8664 is better and cheaper. How often do you get a choice like that?

The rendering above does show one quibble I have with 8664. Notice the lack of a floodwall. Even if I-64 were removed, the floodwall will still cut off the city from the river. There are creative ways for landscape architects to deal with flood plains, but I haven’t seen any details on how 8664 would solve it. Clearly, investment would be needed to do major alterations or reconstructions on the floodwall, and it may never be the case that people will walk out of their house and be directly to the riverfront as this makes it appear. I’m convinced this is a solvealbe problem, however.

The pictures below show the huge opportunity that awaits. There are literally hundreds of acres of land on the landward side of I-64 that are a wasteland today, but could be reclaimed for park space. Check this out:

Notice the rail lines in the picture. Freight or old streetcar lines? The remains of an old brick street are clearly visible there. JC mentioned something about a Frederick Law Olmsted designed Northwest Parkway, but a mental block prevents me from recalling the details lest I start crying.

There’s plenty of land if you look the other direction too:

That billboard in the background appears to be built on public land. What an insult to the city.

And here’s a last look at I-64 cutting off downtown from the river.

If you want to see what the future could hold instead, check out this one minute 8664 video showing a conceptual view of the new riverfront from the vantage point of a river along a true Riverfront Parkway.

Don’t take my word for it. Do your own comparison at the official web site of the Ohio River Bridges Project and the homepage of 8664.

Better and cheaper. What’s not to love?

Of course, not everybody likes better and cheaper. Highway construction and engineering companies sure don’t. And they carry a lot of political weight. But Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was already wealthy before taking office, doesn’t need anyone’s money, and isn’t angling to do anything but serve out his last term as governor and continue pushing for change. He’s brought a keen fiscal eye to the Hoosier State, and 8664 would save Hoosiers a bundle by not having to pay for 50% of a downtown bridge plus 100% of the approach work on the Indiana side. With projects like I-69 running over budget, this could be a great place to save money. Plus, the Major Moves funds allocated to the bridges project are not sufficient to pay Indiana’s $1.2 billion share of the project, period. And 8664 preserves the East End bridge that Indiana cares about and which is a no-brainer.

Gov. Steve Beshear took office at a tough time in the Commonwealth, and I think he’s brought some needed seriousness to the role. He strikes me as the kind of guy who is willing to listen to common sense, particularly when Kentucky has huge budget problems, is already having to cancel projects because of highway funding shortfalls, and which has already mortgaged part of its future with GARVEE bonds to pay for the work it is already doing.

Tolls could bail this thing out, but better than toll money is no money. Just because you’re taking it out of motorist pockets at the toll both instead of the gas pump doesn’t mean it is any less a tax and government expense to build this thing. And 8664 is fully compatible with a toll-funded solution.

The East Enders will never give up in their fight to kill the East End bridge, so obviously nothing will convince them. Anything that makes the project less expensive and thus more likely happen they won’t like.

And of course the Courier-Journal, whose editorial page is effectively the PR arm of the Abramson administration, will never stop beating the anti-8664 drum.

But the majority of the public is not in the construction business or a wealthy resident of Prospect. Polls have shown that the public overwhelmingly supports 8664. It is an idea whose time has come. The choice is clear: more of the same or a bold choice for Louisville’s future. 8664 is certainly not risk free, but it’s a bet I believe is well worth taking.

Topics: Transportation
Cities: Louisville

45 Responses to “Louisville: The Case for 8664”

  1. Doug Weasner says:

    The post speaks to 8664 calling for the removal of I-64 between I-65 and 22nd St. Leaving the existing I-64/Riverfront Expressway as a freeway from the Sherman Minton Bridge to 9th St makes more sense in my mind. Remove the ramps to and from the east at 9th St to get this interchange down to only two levels, while preserving the free flow on the Riverfront Expressway into downtown Louisville without ripping through downtown Louisville. That leaves a mile+ of open riverfront as envisioned by the 8664 proposal. Much of the view west of 9th street is spoiled by Shippingport Island anyway. Otherwise, I agree wholeheartedly with the concept. The missing East End bridge is a transportation disaster.

  2. D Morse says:

    Sorry I missed you.

    Did you actually attempt to talk to River Fields?

    Notice that the 3D rendering conveniently leaves out stop lights, making the trip seem easier than it is.

    9th street doesn't stick in *my* craw – I kind of like bicycling on it, actually.

    The rail track you see is a combination of freight and a feeder to the elevated rail lines going into the old central station, which is now approximate the site of Muhammad Ali Center. The city still owns chunks of that Right of Way, and some of us have big plans for it. Ironically, it was the ancient blog post on these lines that led me to Urbanophile in the first place.

  3. David says:

    Great article.

    As a resident of Prospect, I would very much support the construction of the East End Bridge; with or without the tunnel. As a resident of Metro Louisville also support the 8664 plan that eliminates the need for another downtown bridge.

    The taxpayer would save $2B and the end project is a better result.

    For those who still think the 8664 part (ie remove I-64 from some point in the West End and start it up again somewhere near Buthchertown) is flawed…thru traffic on I-64 can continue along 264 East/West to/from I-64. Probably adds 5-10 minutes. The future alternative is to build a bridge in far southwest Jefferson County that connects I-265 to I-64 in Indiana. Am sure that is still less expensive than the 2 Bridge Project and you can bet that River Fields would never oppose it since it lies in a part of the county that River fields has probably never been to.

  4. hharrington says:

    I have both blogged and talked about this a lot. I think I even made the comment on this site that I don't think the Bridges Project would ever get built. It's just to expensive. Even with tolls.

    8664 is going to have to find a way to get some more political clout. I know they may not have the money, but they might have to look into getting a lobbyist. I would also suggest that they approach Indiana with their idea and lobby Mitch. Nobody in KY is paying any attention to them.

    On the bright side it is rumored that Mayor-for-life isn't going to run in 2010 for reelection. That maybe the time to strike.

  5. D Morse says:

    "Polls have shown that the public overwhelmingly supports 8664"

    I suspect this is a misunderstanding. Or if its true, 8664 has been uncharacteristically close-lipped about it.

    There has been a poll that shows more support for the east end bridge than the downtown bridge. That's a far cry from supporting 8664, which also advocates the destruction of a major expressway link!

    If only there were a well-organized campaign out there that
    1) didn't pave over Louisville's urban core
    2) didn't destroy a ton of in-place, paid-for infrastructure, and replace it with yet more road-building

    Bridges is a batshit insane roads project. 8664 is a quirky roads project. I personally support a non-roads project, that solves the problem without using the harmful tools that got us into this mess, and doesn't dynamite existing working infrastructure.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Comparing to Indianapolis, which has a better use of its riverfront at the current time. Does anyone know if the West St. cooridor was supposed to be an interstate at one time or not, it seems like it could be the fourth leg in an interstate loop around downtown, but for some reason was never built. As a result, getting from downtown to White River State Park is a bit easier.

  7. David says:

    Anon 11:12

    – Indy has done a nice job with White River.

    The comparison to Louisville's waterfront and its' progress/challenges is a much different animal however.

  8. JG says:

    ANON 11:12 – I believe the answer regarding WEST ST. is "yes." I cannot locate the document but I have seen an Indianapolis Regional Center plan from the 1960s or 70s that called for an interstate leg along the White River. It could have been on the WEST bank – I forget. Does anyone know of a link to that regional plan?

  9. JG says:

    Thanks URBANO for taking up the cause. He made the case nicely for a smart project. This is a slam dunk on multiple levels – least of which is the $2 billion saved.

    Concerns regarding increased commutes are overstated, due to removal of much of the interstate traffic to the outer loop. The 8664 folks might be underestimating the need for 6 lane road along the river, though this is hardly a reason not to move forward. Furthermore limiting access to the proposed parkway will decrease idling time at intersections thus improving trip times.

    D MORSE's concerns regarding replacement of one roads project with another are well-noted and interesting. However, the facts point toward 8664 as a more reasonable, cheaper roads project, that will require less maintenance down the line and save future generations of tax money (compared to the $4 billion proposal.) In time increased mass transit will serve Louisville metro, but should compliment not replace the 8664 plan.

    DAVID: I still think the EAST end bridge makes more sense than a bridge WEST of Louisville for many reasons (terrain, distance, price.)

  10. David says:

    JG – I am in favor of EAST END Bridge first (and only in my lifetime anyway). Only stated the West bridge as a future option that is still way less expensive than what is proposed by the Downtown Bridge

  11. JG says:

    Gotcha Dave. Totally agree.

  12. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Good pics on how the interstate wrecks what should be an incredible view of the river through downtown and near west Louisville. This "spaghetti bowl" sounds like a mess to do, and a mess to look at (it's tough enough to handle that intersection over the river right now).

    For an interesting Midwestern study on a similar case, Milwaukee tore down a near-dowtown freeway and turned it back into coventional streets. It creates a cool entrance into downtown, and is the home to recently-opened developmkent at the former Pabst Brewery building. But County mismanagement and the banking meltdown has kept much of the "Park East/ Park west" area from being developed as well ass it should be.

    Here's a good link on it, for those who are interested.

  13. Jason says:

    There are two wars being fought over 8664. The first is with the Abramson and River Fields cohort, which has enormous political and financial clout. The second is public perception of the full plan. D Morse is right, a large majority of folks are in favor of building just the East End Bridge. However, many are skeptical of getting rid of the proposed section of 64. This is mostly due to misinformation being propagated by cohort 1, and just the general unease about and lack of knowledge of traffic engineering.

    Hopefully the renewed infrastructure focus and the interest in developing cities to be more livable will start tipping in 8664's direction. Until then the slow and steady drip must continue.

  14. Jennifer. says:

    It looks like safety is an issue.

    1. a main artery of traffic is on street level next to a river. in case of flood, it would harm our ability to evacuate the city. Just a little water would cause a major headache.

    2. parkgoers are required to cross this busy intersection in order to enjoy the park

    3. there is no longer quick interstate travel from west end to east end – important to integrate to disparate ends of town and improve cultural diversity. I live in the west end, and that 5pm congestion with lights and intersections looks NOT fun, will mean my consumer dollars will go to New Albany stores instead of the closest Louisville ones.

    I'm not sold. I wasn't sold on the 'two bridge' deal either.

    PS – i've worked downtown since middle school a long time ago, and always liked the overpasses. walked downtown to the river on many occasions and loved the rumble of the cars overhead. city doesnt have to be country to be beautiful.

  15. Anonymous says:


    Make a trip to Chicago or Milwaukee and see what a waterfront free of freeways can offer. They make the wasteland show in the pictures all the more pathetic. As for the idea that a freeway is needed to connect the two ends of the city, that's the saddest commentary I think I've heard about an urban city in a long time.

  16. The Urbanophile says:

    Thanks for the comments everybody.

    One correction, Chicago does have a freeway on its lakefront – Lake Shore Dr. It is definitely a barrier. However, it principally runs at grade, so isn't cutting the city off from the lake. Also, the lake doesn't flood.

    Jennifer, the evacuation issue seems pretty tenuous to me. And it strikes me that I-64 is not much of a connector between the east and west ends. There is only one west end exit: 22nd. How much traffic enters and exits there? Pedestrian crossings on the riverfront parkway would be no worse than the Embarcadero SF, which functions just fine. In fact, that's one of my favorite jogging routes when I'm there.

  17. bluegill says:

    It's been frustrating but somewhat amusing to hear Indiana officials, who ostensibly support the Bridges Project, continually screw up (read: be honest) and say "bridge", singular, when talking about their support.

    I understand why Abramson is doing it, but why Indiana officials are kowtowing to eastern Jefferson County, KY, honchos is a baffling but central question.

    I think we'll learn more about that as tolling information begins to shape Indiana public opinion. Hoosiers haven't quite caught on to what tolls would mean and proponents of the Bridges Project generally only talk about the convenience of modern tolling technology rather than the amounts to be charged.

    If the bridges are tolled, Clark and Floyd County, IN, residents will pay them approximately 15 times more than their Jefferson County, KY, counterparts, based on commuting patterns. That doesn't include surrounding Indiana counties like Harrison and Washington which would tip the toll burden in Indiana's direction even more. Hoosiers will pay for their portion and Kentucky's, with any additional, long-term revenue most likely going to Kentucky.

    Jennifer won't have to worry about spending her money in New Albany as it may cost her $5 or $6 dollars to get there and back.

    Thus far, only Baron Hill has spoken against them. Local and state politicos have referred to their support of tolls as "looking out for Hoosier interests".

  18. Kelly says:

    I suppose what's most frustrating about the whole damn thing is that we have spent so much money and time making the riverfront and downtown a better place. Waterfront Park is a jewell and Slugger Field is simply amazing. The 22 lane disaster that is the revamped junction will cover a great deal of the park and practically run right across right field.

    I know very few people who are in favor of both bridges but in the end, the powers that be could really care less what you or I think about the whole thing. Once again, Louisville has a chance to do the right thing but in the end will do the wrong one. Our only hope is that the current economic mess will ensure that the money to build these bridges never materialize.

  19. JG says:

    PORKER: I vote for both democrat and republican, about 50/50. Wrong again. I think you have a lot of good information to offer, but you waste it as a doofus and embarrass yourself with each comment. I know you didn't do the same when KBR wasted money in IRAQ. Take a lesson from the way others discuss/comment on URBANO's blog. It's nice to disagree and have people still like you. (Sometimes you change their minds.)

    ALL: I wish more money was allocated in the US to improving the infrastructure for freight transport (instead of HSR) for the purpose of removing 18-wheelers from the roads and improving congestion. Additionally it would cut down on energy consumption and CO2 emissions for those who are concerned. Likely cheaper than HSR and it accomplishes SOME (not all) of the same goals.

    ALON, ANECHOIC, ALL: I am curious about CALIFORNIA'S HSR proposals from and through LA metro to San Diego metro. Fare and time statistics are impressive – though I suspected both are somewhat underestimated. What are the chances for success here? I imagine this, after NEC upgrades, would be the most appropriate place to locate HSR in the U.S. (Sorry to St. Louis – Chi and Indy – Chi; I am still skeptical.)

  20. JG says:

    Ignore my previous comment (Or find it on the "lively" commentary on the previous BLOG post.) It was intended and added there. Never a great idea to "troll" the internet after working late into the night. Ha.

  21. Jason says:

    The safety issue is weak at best. As I recall, during the last major flood in 1997 there were absolutely zero issues in regards to evacuation – particularly downtown. One reason is not many folks live downtown, and secondly Ohio river flooding – almost as a rule – does not happen suddenly.

    I echo the Urbanophile in suggesting taking a look at San Fran, and others have rightly I think mentioned Milwaukee who just recently did something similar to what 8664 is looking to do.

    And those that act as though it will be a slower trip across the city just aren't being realistic as to how the parkway would work, or how 64 currently runs. Traffic often backs up from 9th street to the junction because the junction is a mess at that point (and will only be more so with the Bridges project). There are only three entrances to downtown from 64 currently (22nd east and west, 9th going west only and 3rd going east only). 64 is not currently helping in "diversity", or getting folks from one end to the other.

    Also, it will be interesting to see if 8664 can get Indiana on board. the costs are being shared and Indy has remained rather silent on this front so far.

  22. bluegill says:

    Governor Daniels cracked at one point, admitting to the Tribune/Evening News, the local Indiana newspapers, that he thought the "two bridges, one project" idea was an obstructionist strategy and that he was open to looking at 8664.

    The Courier-Journal's David Hawpe immediately went to work trying to prove he really didn't mean it.

    To my knowledge, Daniels hasn't publicly come forward about it since.

    If Hawpe still has a job when this whole thing is over, it will be a slap in the face to journalistic integrity everywhere.

  23. OINKER says:

    It was so much fun on the HSR/Pork train thread, thought would come over here and stir up some Pork Bridge comments.

    The 8664 idea seems to be the anti-Pork option that could save $2B and still accomplish the objectives set forth…which is to provide another means to cross the Ohio River and alleviate the loads on the JFK Bridge which is nearing capacity.

    It provides the added benefit of adding 'beauty' to a developing waterfront.

    So, I hereby vest the Downtown Bridge as a Pork Bridge and salute 8664 as the better choice.

    One OINK as this project is nowhere near as piggy as HSR.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Why don't we take that truly lowest cost option and build the east end bridge and leave everything downtown access we like it is? Seems to me this is the best option of any. The new east end bridge will help alleviate downtown traffic on I64 thus reducing noise level generated by it and reducing traffic congestion. Not tearing out the existing interstate will save even more money than 8664, cause a lot less construction mess downtown, not close the main east west corridor when flooding occurs and leave the existing overpasses in place to provide shaded, dry places while enjoying the waterfront.

    The elevated interstate really isn't much of a visual barrier between downtown and the river because all the waterfront buildings are elevated due to flooding and the flood wall so all of the good views are over the interstate anyway.

    Sounds like a win win to me!

  25. Jason says:

    Anonynmous is correct that just building an east end bridge is cheaper than employing the entire 8664 plan. However, 8664 is an investment in the future of the waterfront, which judging from the success of Waterfront Park is worthwhile. No one goes to Waterfront Park and says to themselves,"What a waste of money."

    And the fact that it would help to alleviate barriers to development of the western end of Downtown and would help to create a much more livable and attractive to tourist downtown it seems to me to be a wise investment.

    Also, can we be serious about the idea that the overpass is so wonderful due o the shade it provides. Plant a tree. Build an attractive shelter, or anything. But an overpass is inherently devoid of human interest. Ghery's solution at Bilbao is only even minorly interesting.

  26. Jefferey says:

    The renderings make me think of how Lake Shore Drive passes through Grant Park. Possibly a similar situation as a limited access corniche drive turns into a parkway with traffic lights through Grant Park and then turns into limited access again.

    The interesting thing about 8664 is that it's amenity planning on a grand scale, extending the riverfront park concept into a Chicago-style system of waterfront parks and recreation combined with a parkway, which could lead to improved property values and development in declining areas. This would also be a very elegant solution to connecting Portland with downtown.

    As for the I-65 bridge,yes, it would destroy that new waterfront park. It is quite mad.

  27. Jefferey says:

    A bit of local history on the 9th street interchange…why it is so overdesigned.

    It was to connect up with an expressway that was to head southwest, skirting the west side of Iroquois Park, cutting through the Cardinal Hill area, and eventually interchange with the Gene Snyder in the vicintiy of Penile Road out in Fairdale. This was the Southwest Lateral.

    They built the interchange (and the widended 9th Street) in anticpation of this highway. I think the plan would've been to eventually make 9th limited access, too.

    Needless to say none of this happened as planned, and we are left with one big LA-style interchange to noewhere.

  28. Steve Magruder says:

    Brilliant, comprehensive article! This article is in fact so thorough that it should be required reading by all members of the Louisville Metro Council before they proceed with creating any project funding authorities.

    Re: "The East Enders will never give up in their fight to kill the East End bridge", I don't think a broad brush should be used here. It is really a small, vocal contingent in Prospect (River Fields) that is vociferously opposed to the East End Bridge going forward. I would even venture to claim that most East Enders support this bridge, as it would be an obvious boon to new economic development, not only in Southern Indiana but also along the Eastern Snyder Freeway corridor.

    bluegill: Thank you for illustrating the "Hoosier commuter tax" that the tolls would represent. I myself have been trying to hammer that point every chance I can get, but your approach is far more convincing than anything I've been able to muster. The oppressiveness of such tolls should lead to our community brainstorming for funding alternatives. For example, could we consider using tax set-asides for economic development that comes about as a result of the East End Bridge being completed? In this scheme, an East End Bridge Benefit Corridor could be identified and zoned, and any business starting up or expanding within that corridor could have a portion of their state taxes allotted toward paying back bonds issued for the bridge. This could even be done on the Hoosier side of the river.

  29. Steve Magruder says:

    I also wanted to make an inquiry here regarding the "second downtown bridge" portion of the ORBP.

    Does anyone know of any open public meetings that took place leading up to the decision for adding a second downtown bridge to the project? I honestly cannot remember any such meetings. I think such information, whether or not there were such meetings, it could be very illuminating for upcoming discussions/debates on the subject.

  30. The Urbanophile says:

    Steve, thanks for the nice words and the link from your web site.

    As far as public meetings go, the EIS process requires a public hearing and public input, so there had to be at least some meeting during the process of selecting the preferred alternative.

  31. RR says:

    Has anyone ever assessed the impact to downtown New Albany and the adjacent neighborhoods of being cut off from much of Louisville. I believe the impact could be severe, but no one seems to have studied or assessed.

  32. Corbballspieler says:


    What do you mean by NA or southern Indiana being cut off?

    No one is removing or prohibiting access? 8664 proposes using the monies left over from not building a useless bridge, removing a portion of elevated I-64 along the river in the west end of Lousiville and replacing (let me repeat, replace not remove)it with an at-grade boulevard similar to Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

    You will if anything have improved access to downtown Louisville as you will have more options to exit into the city than what you experience now.

    Who know's, maybe with the extra 2 billion dollars left over, someone would have the bright idea to put that money towards some decent rapid mass transit (say, convert the K+I railroad bridge to accept lightrail tracks so one could take a train from the Sunny Side of Louisville to downtown Lousivlle, UofL, Churchill Downs, and the airport.

    That however would take a little forethought, enlightenment and progressive thinking – all of which seem to be in very short supply amongst the leadership in Louisville.

  33. RR says:

    Yes, I mean cut-off.

    Most of the traffic coming from Indiana does not exit at 9th Street. Most of it continues on to exit at Jefferson Street, head south on 65, or east on 71 or 64.

    If 8664 comes to pass, are you saying that those people will continue to cross the Minton bridge, head down to 22nd St on an expressway, drive several blocks and stop at numerous stop lights only to get back on an expressway and then on to their destination?

    I think not.

    But more importantly, say a business owner in New Albany wanted to attract Louisvillians to his or her new bar, restaurant, condos. etc.

    Currently, the directions are:

    Take I-64 across the Minton bridge, take the first exit, and there you are.

    In the 8664 world, those directions become:

    Take the expressway to the riverside at grade parkway, work your way through 10 or so stoplights, get back on the expressway, and cross the bridge.


    Take the Kennedy bridge, try to find some road called Brown's Station Way, that is not even a state highway any longer. Go past the sewage plants, the gravel pits, and the junk yards. Cross Silver Creek. Get on Spring Street and drive a couple miles and there you are.

    How many people will choose NOT to follow those directions?

    I'm not sure. That's why I asked the question "Has anyone assessed the impact to New Albany…"

  34. JC says:


    8664 has a lot of support in NA. Read NA Confidential. With NA's current efforts to revitalize downtown and form stronger connections to the river, they seem to get urban development better than Louisville's elected leaders.

    Are you coming up with hypothetical trips around town or do you need to make these trips? Some people's commutes might take a little longer with 8664; just as some people's view of the river might be blocked by the EE Bridge. In the end, the best choice weighs all of these factors and does what is right for the long term prosperity of the city.

  35. Prospector says:

    8664 minimizes the need for another INTERSATE downtown bridge.

    Future options (and much less expensive) are a Southwest Jefferson County Bridge and some sort of local access bridge from downtown to NA or Clarksville.

    When I say future…I mean future.

    Build the East End Bridge now.

    PS For the growth folks out there, completion of the East End Bridge along with developments at Ft. Knox and Hardin County (NatBatt) will greatly accelerate the growth of the metro area.

  36. bluegill says:

    When the downtown Louisville section of I-64 was closed for construction with neither an at-grade parkway nor an East Bridge in place as alternatives as they would be with the 8664 plan, the New Albany Tribune ran a poll asking locals how they'd been affected.

    The (paraphrased) choices were A) not at all B) just a little or C) a lot. A majority of respondents chose A and B.

  37. Corbballspieler says:


    Since you're speaking hypothetically, I'll respond in like kind based on my vision of what should happen if my dream of8664 were implemented:

    Tell the bar/condo developer to locate his business/housing development next to one of the NA light rail stations so college students from UofL/JCC or IUS could get loaded at said hypothetical bar and ride the train back home to their dorms. Or someone who buys a hypothetical house/condo next to the station could walk to the train and work in downtown Louisville.

    I also don't think traffic signals are intended for the hypothetical River Road Boulevard.

  38. RR says:

    So, STILL, the answer to my question is that no one has studied the impact on New Albany….

  39. The Urbanophile says:

    RR, it's kind of hard to study something when the agencies that would do it refuse to even take a look. Having said that, I lived on the far side of New Albany for many years and have no issue at all with 8664 making it hard to get downtown. Don't forget, it is also extremely easy to take Spring St. through to the Kennedy or Second St. bridge and be right downtown.

  40. Anonymous says:

    While I admire your persistence in the endeavour, I do hope that you all understand that the vast majority of Louisvillians simply do not care at all about what the river front looks like. Furthermore, during this time of economic difficulty, raising inflation, never-ending war, and massive job loses, the money that would be required to finance the removal of I-64 is simply impossible. Given the failure of the downtown revitalization project and other city works projects, the practical realities of achieve your goals are increasable small. Both the city and the Commonwealth face massive debt issues as well. So, in short, there is no real hope that your work thus far will ever be realized. It is a shame therefore to see so much time, talent, and energy wasted, all of which could be- should be- focused on more immediate problems of social-economic and environmental injustice.

  41. bluegill says:

    "social-economic and environmental injustice" is a major reason an additional downtown bridge was ever put on the docket in the first place.

    Everybody in the Louisville metro who doesn't have millions in their pocket will pay in many ways for a small group that does.

  42. Corbballspieler says:

    Anonymous – do you have even a clue about how the 8664 plan would work? Have you ever visited their website or read even a shred of information on what they propose?

    Obviously not, otherwise you would know that the 8664 plan (including the conversion of a portion of I-64 to an at grade parkway) saves 2 billion dollars! We can't afford not to do this project.

    And for your information, You does not a majority of Louisvillians make! The reason some people may not care about the view is that they've never seen it any other way – or are travelling at high-speeds 30 feet above it, clueless to the fact that it even exists.

  43. Leigh says:

    To Anonymous – Do not forget about private development. That is what comes about when the riverfront is a more accessible, pedestrian – friendly, transit friendly place. People want to be there, walk beside the river, build condo's and restaurants along the river. Developers eye the potential for investment of their own money, not the governments money when we start to make good decisions.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Things that make all the sense in the world, rarely get acomplished, the fault lies in the fact that they just make too much common sense

    What always seems to get in the way is the political/vested interests.

    Now that "His Honor…Mayor for life- Jerry" is now getting ready to make his stage left, that event still doesn't really make a lot of difference.

    The political reality is that the "bridges solution" is so long frought at very much cost… wearing and tearing on everyone, none of us alive today are likely to ever to see the bridges and the destructive devistation of the attendent roadways that follow like an aftermath.

    Having said all that, is there anything any of us can do about it?….Not in a pigs eye, but thankfully there are blog sites, where at least we can creatively vent. Individual impact on our surroundings is some how,out of the control of nominal ordinairy citizens. The real power is always out of reach and out of sight, and is closely held, by the decision makers. Whomever that may ultimately be.

    I actually like the term "Movers & Shakers"….it gives the false impression that a certain segment of the populace can actually acomplish something while being wonderfully anonymous when they are ultimately powerless to deliver any thing useful.

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