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Bracing for the Bridge

East End Bridge
to change life forever in Prospect, Ky.

Easier access for Indiana, Kentucky residents
to come at expense of sleepy, upscale town

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

PROSPECT, Ky. (December 2006) – The landscape of the city of Prospect is about to change forever. With the start of the East End Bridge Project, development may soon push the quiet, upscale residential area into a burgeoning, highly trafficked progressive mecca of asphalt and steel.

December Edition Cover

December Edition Cover

“I’m glad it’s coming,” said Rob Prince, owner of Prospect Jewelers and founding president of the Prospect Area Chamber of Commerce. Although Prince sees the convenience of a Prospect-based bridge spanning the Ohio River to Indiana, from a merchant’s point of view, he would still “like to keep business right here at home.”
The East End Bridge Project is part of a larger project to meet the cross-river transportation needs of Kentucky and Indiana. On July 26, 2002, former Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton and former Indiana Gov. Frank O’Bannon jointly announced that the Ohio River Bridges Project would be built to connect the two states.
The project consists of building two new bridges, one beginning in downtown Louisville and a second in Prospect, and rebuilding the Kennedy Interchange (also known as Spaghetti Junction), where three interstates connect. Transportation officials say this project consists of two bridges, and one will not be built without the other.
The East End Bridge would be part of a 6.5-mile highway connecting the Kentucky and Indiana segments of I-265 (Lee Hamilton Highway) via KY 841 (Gene Snyder Freeway) between Prospect and Utica, Ind. The entire Ohio River Bridges Project is tentatively scheduled for completion by 2020 with a price tag of $2.5 billion.
Upon completion, the Gene Snyder Freeway would connect to the Lee Hamilton Highway. So far, it has taken two years to design the East End Bridge portion of this major construction project.

Dan Carrier

Photo by Don Ward

East End Bridge lead designer and
Cincinnati native Dan Carrier explains
the various alternative designs at a
November open house in Louisville.
He has helped design dozen of
bridges in his career.

Bridge options have been narrowed down to three designs: a diamond tower cable-stayed bridge; a median-tower cable-stayed bridge with outside cables; and a median-tower cable stayed bridge with center cables. Several public forums were held in mid-November in Louisville and southern Indiana to display design options for both bridges. The public was even allowed the opportunity to vote at the forums and online for their favorite designs. The voting will not decide which design will be used for each bridge but the voting will be taken into consideration by the committees that will make the decisions, officials said.
In Prospect, meanwhile, fears have risen that homes and businesses will be adversely affected. Residents have been told that the bridge is inevitable for transportation and safety concerns, so many are gearing up for change whether they want to see progress take over their community.
The project would demolish two condominiums in The Harbors, down river from Captain’s Quarters on River Road. This will greatly affect the unique aesthetic quality of the landscape, said Prince. Residents who are used to looking at a tranquil river scene will be forced to stare at concrete and steel on a daily basis.
Princes’ focus “has always been to support the immediate community.” Most Prospect business is service-based, and he feels that there is more than enough business in the immediate area that will not be lost once the project is complete.
But there are many factors to consider with the East End Bridge project. Ramp relocation and a new tunnel under the existing U.S. Hwy. 42 at the current northern end of KY 841 are elements touted to improve traffic flow and driver safety.

Bridge Construction

Photo by Don Ward

The intersection of Hwy. 42 and KY 841
is being relocated so exploratory work can
be done for a future tunnel under Hwy. 42.

The East End Bridge project calls for relocating the current KY 841 off-ramp and moving it southwest, parallel and adjacent to the KY 841 on-ramp from Hwy. 42. Two new left turning lanes from Hwy. 42 to KY 841 on-ramp would be added, and a light at the intersection would be synchronized with a light on Wolf Pen Branch Road.
Planners reasoned that relocating the off-ramp would make it easier for vehicles turning left onto Hwy. 42 from the Bridgepoint Subdivision. This relocation project is currently under way and is considered “preliminary work to the boring of an exploratory tunnel,” which will run parallel to the current KY 841 off-ramp, said Kristen Jordan Leggett, spokeswoman for Doe Anderson Advertising, which is handling the public relations for the Louisville bridge project.
This preliminary work has led to a lot of confusion about the project, she said. “Many people think that IS the bridge project work that is going on now, but it is not. The bridge project cannot begin until all environmental impact studies are complete,” she explained.
“Many Prospect residents do not realize that the ramp relocation is only a geotechnical study and in no way marks the beginning of the construction project for the eastern bridge,” said Misty Cruse of River Fields, one of the oldest river conservation organizations in the country.

Rob Prince

Rob Prince

Blasting occurred between July and September 2006 at the site “as a form of research to determine whether or not the Prospect tunnel could be built approaching the bridge,” she said. River Fields supports the downtown project but its members do not see a need for the East End Bridge project.
The geotechnical information gathered from the site will provide design engineers with additional information for planning a proposed six-lane, 2,000-foot tunnel at the KY 841 and Hwy. 42 intersection. This will widen a portion of Hwy. 42 from two-lanes to six-lanes leading into the tunnel.
Prince is also a member of the Mayor’s Advisor Board in Prospect. He said the widening of Hwy. 42 would be an involved process, beginning with the setting up of construction easements.

Design Decisions
Bridge plan map

After 1 1/2 years and 15 original
concepts, two separate bridge design
teams have narrowed their selection
to just six alternatives – one for each
of two Louisville bridges. Below are
the three alternatives for the East End
Bridge. The committee held a series
of open houses and invited the public to
vote for its favorite designs. The
committee plans to announce its
decisions in January 2007.

East End Bridge “Alternative 1”

This rendition of the East End Bridge
“Alternative 1” is a diamond tower,
outside cable suspension design.
Similar bridges stand in
Owensboro, Ky., and Charleston, S.C.

East End Bridge “Alternative 2”

This rendition of the East End Bridge
“Alternative 2” is a needle tower, with
cables extending to the outside of the deck.

East End Bridge “Alternative 3”

This rendition of the East End Bridge
“Alternative 3” is a needle tower, with
cables attaching to the inside of the deck.
Cars pass on the outside of the cables.
A similar bridge is the Sunshine
Skyway in Sarasota, Fla.

“It will be interesting because the construction easements will come up within six to eight feet of the storefronts,” said Prince.
Many Prospect businesses are located within a centralized shopping village, and local officials hope to create an access through the rear of the buildings during the pre- and post-construction process. Presently, there is no connecting point without having to go out onto Hwy. 42, which will not be feasible once construction begins.
Connecting Prospect Point to Prospect Plaza would provide a “greater ease of access,” said Prince. He foresees piles of dirt, construction equipment and 90 percent of parking spaces taken up during construction, and an alternative route needs to be in place.
“This project has the potential to harm the quality of life in Prospect for a long time,” said Leslie Barras, Associate Director of River Fields. This is a project that will not be built quickly overnight but rather take years to complete.
The construction aspects are harmful to Prospect residents and merchants alike, said Barras. Motorists who must drive through the construction zones daily will have to endure more wear and tear, she said, and there will be increased noise, dust and damage from blasting.
Barras said 400 acres would be destroyed as well. Wetlands, streams, forested areas and floodplains will be negatively affected.
A concrete blanket will cover Harrod’s Creek once 500 feet of a six-lane highway stretches across the creek.
A portion of the proposed tunnel will pass underneath Prospect’s Drumanard Estate, a historic property on the National Register of Historic Places. The proposed highway will also plow through a water well system developed in Louisville to serve the entire region’s drinking water, said Barras. River Fields fears that pollution from gas, antifreeze and road salt will seep into a groundwater aquifer and ultimately contaminate the water.
Barras pointed out a Bridges Environmental Impact Statement that predicted a loss of almost 11,000 jobs from Kentucky to Indiana as a result of the East End Bridge project. There will be many interchanges built on the Indiana side of the river. Indiana’s interest lies more in developing land, not so much in solving a traffic problem, she said.
Ann Simms, Prospect City Administrator, pointed out that the East End Bridge “is not just for Prospect but part of an overall transportation project for the Louisville area.” The city has a positive attitude toward this project, she said, although that was not the case in the beginning.
The city did not want a bridge or see a need for one at first, said Simms, who has attended public meetings for the project since it was first proposed. It became evident that everyone else wanted it, and state and federal authorities declared it necessary.
Looking toward the future, the late Mayor of Prospect, Lonnie Falk, was always interested in the project. “Prospect was standing alone in not wanting the bridge,” said Simms. But the city now supports a project that offers “as good a solution as we have found,” for transportation and safety issues.
Prospect has tried to cooperate with state officials and the federal government on this project. “There are things that can be done to lessen noise and pollution issues, and we will work with them for the best solution for our city,” said Simms.

• To read more about the Louisville bridges, visit: www.kyinbridges.com.

Back to December 2006 Articles.

 

 

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