BRADENTON, Fla. — A federal appeals court sided with Kentucky and Indiana, and dismissed a lawsuit over the massive $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project being built by the two states.
The Louisville-based Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation, also known as CART, brought the appeal hoping to overturn a district judge's ruling in July 2013, which dismissed the suit against the states.
In affirming dismissal of the complaint, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 7 that CART failed to prove two essential points: that the states did not properly follow environmental laws and that they violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when they approved the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project.
The three-judge panel said the states "fully discharged their duties" under the National Environmental Policy Act, and that CART's "evidence is insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact on whether the state defendants intentionally discriminated on the basis of race in connection with the project."
"This ruling affirms the hard work of our project team," Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said Aug. 11. "The law has been scrupulously followed as we have assessed and documented the effect of the Ohio River Bridges project on the environment and population of the Louisville and Southern Indiana area."
CART's attorney, David Coyte, could not be reached for comment about the decision or whether his client would appeal further.
In December, Kentucky closed on $728 million in bonds and notes to fund a major portion of its $1.3 billion cost to rehabilitate a major bridge, and build a new one adjacent to it, between Louisville and southern Indiana.
While CART's suit may have been dismissed, legal problems for the Bluegrass state are not over.
On July 25, Maureen Mathis, an African-American woman, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit saying that Kentucky officials delayed approving the Disadvantaged Business Enterprises recertification for her contracting firm, and that cost the firm a "valuable business opportunity" to work on the bridge project in Louisville.
The refusal to recertify Mathis and her company was based on "racial animus toward African Americans" by certain state officials, and that they "intentionally discriminate against African American-owned businesses with regard to DBE certification giving preference to a different class of minorities, namely businesses owned by white females," the complaint said.
Court records indicate that the state has not filed a response to the discrimination suit.