Response to the "8664" Study
On December 16th the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet released an "8664" Traffic study. Two days later, a Courier-Journal editorial celebrated our defeat. For those who oppose the East End Bridge, it made for great reading. Now we would like to respond with the facts.
The "8664" Study
Simply put, KYTC didn't study our alternative. We don't widen I-64 through Cherokee Park or terminate current day I-64 at Clay Street. There are other inaccuracies, but these two modeling "mistakes" serve to simultaneously increase traffic flow into downtown and restrict it once it gets there. On January 5th, Transportation Secretary Prather acknowledged these mistakes.
While the $60,000 traffic study is critically flawed, it does bring to light two important findings:
#1. An East End Bridge-only alternative performs 99% as well as two bridges
That's right, according to the study; Louisville gets the same benefits from building one bridge as two. On page 8, the study details the region's "System-Wide Performance" in terms of Vehicle Miles Traveled and Vehicle Hours Traveled. The Regional Daily VMT/VHT Comparison of an East End Bridge Only plan is virtually identical to the current plan that also includes a downtown bridge and expanded Spaghetti Junction at an addition cost of $2 billion.
The benefit of the East End Bridge is also supported in the Ohio River Bridges Project's Environmental Impact Statement. The "EIS" indicates that an East End Bridge will provide significantly more regional capacity than a new Downtown Bridge. And at $940 million, the East End Bridge cost less than half as much as the downtown portion of the project.
Why should this matter to you? Kentucky's legislature may vote on a tolling authority. If it passes, the Bridges Project likely can't be altered and you will have to pay a $5 toll to cross the river for the next 20 years.
#2. They plan to widen I-64 through Cherokee Park
The Transportation Cabinet boldly denies this. Chief of staff Mike Hancock says "That is not back on the table." But why then do they widen these interstates before running their traffic modeling? They didn't design a 23-lane Spaghetti Junction to have it squeeze down to 4 lanes through the Cochran Tunnel.
If you live in the Highlands, Crescent Hill or St. Matthews and you don't want to see I-64 widened, you need to contact your legislator and ask them to build the East End Bridge first.
Believe us or not
We realize some people have sincere concerns about removing an existing roadway. We can point to numerous examples where reducing central interstate capacity was predicted to create traffic problems but didn't. We ask the Courier's editorial board to point to a single example that did. Whether you believe in our vision for opening up our waterfront or not, please consider who is pushing for what. We want to build the East End Bridge without tolls.
Mayor Abramson and the "agencies" that report to him are our biggest critics. He has successfully avoided building the East End Bridge for more than 20 years. Not surprisingly, the past president of River Fields, who's now Chairman of the Downtown Development Corporation and on the board of the Bridges Coalition opposes our plan. As does the C-J's editorial board. All these people and groups are pushing for a tolling authority. Why?
We've worked hard for a vision we believe in. If you think it's time to finally build a bridge and create a stronger regional economy, oppose a tolling authority and help us plan for a vibrant, sustainable city.