The Sherman Minton Rehabilitation Opportunity
Consultants for this project have been selected and they have begun the EIS Process with a couple of public meetings this last week.
Rehabilitating the Sherman Minton is scheduled to begin in late 2021. It will take a two to three years and require frequent lane closures and full shut-downs for periods over that time. The congestion will be a nightmare for everyone. The 65 corridor will take the brunt of the traffic, but the West End, New Albany and downtown Louisville will suffer the worst from congestion and the resulting pollution.
Our impression from the consultants in the Louisville Public Meeting is that they have no real plan to address congestion and cross-river travel beyond creatively moving traffic barriers and hoping for the best. When I suggested implementing a cross-river rail transit system for this project the responses went from neutral to out-right antagonistic.
These are highway men and women who are hired by highway departments to do highways. Our past experience in trying to bring about consideration of rail options has shown a lack of interest in looking outside the curbs.
I imagine that the Kentucky and Indiana Highway Agencies are looking forward to forcing 90,000 more vehicles across the tolled bridges. Their projections for travel on the tolled bridges have fallen way short – having ignored CART’s data and tweaked their own. Forcing 90,000 more trips across the tolled bridges is good for their revenue streams, but it is crappy public policy.
We have two well placed rail bridges that could be used to address some of this congestion and help those who will be most impacted by this project.
We should be looking to utilize them to the fullest. Implementing commuter rail service will allow TARC to maintain cross-river service without being mired in traffic. These bridges are the only options available to make a positive impact during this construction.
The highwaymen will be whining about the cost of implementing this service, But remember that these same guys used the “cost of Congestion” as a major justification for the last Bridges Project. Apparently that argument only works for them.
The other thing to consider is that after two years of study and prep, two to three years of very painful construction, and 90 plus milllion dollars, what will we have? EXACTLY WHAT WE HAVE TODAY. We have fallen down the Rabbit Hole.
This project is important and it also offers the only chance we will have for 30 years to implement a modern transportation system. A commuter rail system will not only address the mobility of our aging population but give us a boost towards addressing the climate issues that threaten us all. Rail is 15 times more efficient than cars for moving people, and it is that much safer, too. So let’s leverage all this pain into something that will actually move us forward and help us confront the climate and resource issues that are barreling down on us. That’s good public policy.
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