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Bridges Authority says they will discuss 8664

Here is today's Bridges Authority to look at 8664 Press Release (PDF). 

Per the release: 

"At last Thursday's Bridges Authority meeting, Authority Secretary Sandra Frazier of Tandem Public Relations announced that the Bridges Authority would be discussing the 8664 alternative and a bridge project in St. Louis that was scaled down to avoid tolls at their next meeting. Clearly there are new reasons for reconsidering the $4.1 Billion Ohio River Bridges Project.

"With last week's poll showing only 15% of Louisvillians support building two bridges, coupled with the overwhelmingly negative reaction to tolling Spaghetti Junction, it's clearly time to look for better options" said JC Stites, 8664 Co-Founder. According to Insight Communications' recent poll, while only 14.5% supports building both bridges, a combined total of 64.6% support building the East End Bridge."

This is exciting news for anyone who wants to see Louisville progress and find a more reasonable approach to solving our transportation needs. We have contacted the author of our Feasibility Study (Walter Kulash) and hope to have him here for the next meeting on October 7th.

 

Cynics have suggested that this politically-appointed board could have an ulterior motive, bringing up 8664 just to trash the idea. After all, the Authority's website says it "is not charged with changing the project's scope".

But we are going assume the best to go to the meeting with the full intention of presenting the case for a less expensive, more sustainable plan.

We would welcome your input. Email us at info@8664.org.

Here are some questions we submitted to the Bridges Authority today:

Wilbur Smith's November 2007 tolling study suggests that demand and resulting revenue from a tolled East End Bridge would be low if it were the only bridge tolled. That's not surprising considering an erroneous assumption that the Downtown Bridge and 23-lane Spaghetti Junction is completed.

Question #1: Did the previous study make this incorrect assumption?

According to the project's last published schedule (Jan. 2009), the EE Bridge should open 6 years before the Downtown Bridge. Therefore the projected demand for tolling the EE Bridge should be based on the assumption that there is no new Downtown Bridge or expanded Spaghetti Junction for at least the first six years? Additionally, this demand data should be itemized as "pre" and "post" Downtown Bridge completion.

Question #2: Will the Authority's new tolling study correct this issue?

There are also two other items which should be reflected in the new tolling study. Since the new Spaghetti Junction is scheduled to take 17 years to complete, the demand model should be calibrated for likely downtown construction delays.

Furthermore, since the last tolling study, KIPDA has removed the widening of I-64 through the Cochran Tunnel from the region's long range transportation plan. This will likely have a significant impact on regional traffic patterns. In fact, a study without constraining the width of I-64 to four lanes in that section would be clearly flawed.

Question #3: Will both of the above issues be incorporated into the new tolling study?

LEO Weekly: "Burned Bridge"

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eebridge.jpg"Politics, power and obstruction: Has Louisville's most prominent preservation group lost its vision?"

Steven Shaw did a heck of a job covering a very difficult story. Read it!

Yesterday's Courier-Journal headline painted a scary picture of Louisville's future traffic congestion. "Congestion rife on Louisville highways; Louisville among worst US cities its size with 38 hours lost yearly." Interesting timing considering that Metro Council will be asked to approve the creation of a tolling authority in the coming weeks.

But for readers who actually read the article, they found the headline to be misleading. For example, congestion has "stayed relatively constant from 1997 to 2007". This begs the question,

Why would we toll our bridges and triple the size of Spaghetti Junction when congestion hasn't increased over the past decade? 

The article also acknowledges that "the report's backers include road building and public transit interests." Road builders like to build roads. In fact, that's one of the ways they suggest we get out of this mess of congestion that hasn't increased in a decade, by building more roads. But we all know Barry Barker is correct when he says, "you can't build yourself out of congestion."

The other interesting fact about this hot-off-the-shelf 2009 report is that it didn't include any traffic data from 2008. As we've noted in other posts, Louisville's congestion is reported to have declined by 39% in 2008. This data is from INRIX, a privately held corporation founded by former Microsoft executives, not road building interests.

Did we mention that traffic on the Kennedy Bridge went down 15,000 cars/day last year? Look for a future post regarding the region's actual traffic counts.

Welcome to Louisville Video (Part I)

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Entering downtown from the East End

The State's "8664" traffic study incorrectly terminated all off ramps from Spaghetti Junction at Clay Street. This video shows how I-364 (today's I-64) would flow seamlessly through a simplified SJ to Waterfront Parkway. 

The video continues west along the Parkway to Roy Wilkins Boulevard (9th Street), which will become a significant central, unifying street. In the near future, we will release other videos showing different perspectives of Louisville's future.

Louisville's congestion declined by 39% in 2008

According to INRIX's National Traffic Scorecard, Louisville's traffic congestion declined last year by 39%, well above the national average of 30%. That leaves Louisville in 46th place among US cities in terms of traffic congestion. That's pretty amazing for the "16th Largest City."

CEOs for Cities wrote a nice post about this called The Tipping Point.

The reduction in congestion definitely begs the question, "Why do we need a 23-lane interchange to rival Los Angeles, CA (the most congested city) when our traffic doesn't compare?" The East End Bridge alone will reduce Kennedy Bridge traffic by 18% according to the Environmental Impact Statement. It's time to take action to protect the future of our city.

Removing Roads Speeds Urban Travel

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Scientific American2.JPGThis article in the January 29th Scientific American should be mandatory reading for a few folks in town.

We like reading scientific journals that say things like:

"closing a highway--that is, reducing network capacity--
improves the system's effectiveness."

This fact was made clear in our local example when KYTC's "8664" Traffic Study showed that an East End Bridge Only solution performed as well as the "two-bridge solution" that would cost twice as much and expand Spaghetti Junction to 23 lanes wide.

Here's a nice quote for our friends in Washington (Helloooo, Congressman Yarmuth!):

"As the Obama administration prepares to invest in the biggest public works project since the construction of the interstate highway system, the notion that fewer, more inclusive roads yield better results is especially timely."

Good stuff. Read the entire article. 

Bigger SJ = tolls & widen I-64 thru Cherokee Park

Half the cost of the Bridges Project (or $2 Billion) has nothing to do with a bridge. The proposed 23 lane wide Spaghetti Junction will make downtown a construction hell for 20 years. And you get to pay for it. $4, $5 or maybe even a $6 toll every time you want to cross the river. This project was supposed to improve "cross-river mobility."

(c) 2006 ORBP Rendering

The Transportation Cabinet denies they plan to widen I-71 and I-64 through the Cherokee Park, but it's in their traffic modeling. They wouldn't widen these interstates in their model if they didn't plan on actually widening them.

Build the East End Bridge without tolls

According to the Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS"), the East End Bridge performs better than a Downtown Bridge by more than 10,000 vehicles a day. And in the KYTC's "8664" traffic study, the "System Wide Performance" of a single-bridge solution matched the ORBP's two bridge solution. So we can actually spend less and get more if we build the East End Bridge, which we can do without tolls.

Contact your state representatives!

Letter to the Editor

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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.

"8664" Study response

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Read our Letter to Secretary Joe Prather in response to the "8664" study.

Two important points:

  1. A one-bridge solution performs as well as the ORBP. According to their own study, 8664's "System-wide Performance" was 99% as good as the $4.1 Billion ORBP. See "System Wide Measures" on page 8 of the KYTC 8664 study.

  2. KYTC plans to widen I-71 and I-64 through Cherokee Park. In their "8664" study, the Tranportation Cabinet assumes that these interstates get wider, but they flatly deny that they plan to widen them. They can't have it both ways. They can't assume they'll be wider when modeling, and deny they plan to widen them. Contact your state representative today.

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