BRADENTON, Fla. — The Kentucky Legislature Monday begins a special session called by Gov. Steve Beshear after legislators failed to pass a transportation budget last week.
Lawmakers adjourned their regular session on Thursday without final passage by the Senate of funding for road and bridge projects, including the Ohio River Bridges Project.
In his call for the special session, Beshear said the project is “the most anticipated transportation project in decades” and that it has “enormous” importance to Kentucky, Indiana and the region.
Beshear negotiated with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to split the $2.6 billion cost between the two states to build two new spans across the Ohio River and connecting roadways.
The Kentucky House and Senate transportation bills envisioned different scenarios for funding the state’s $1.3 billion portion of the project. The House committed $50 million annually in cash for six years in addition to toll revenue bonds. The Senate’s version authorized $300 million of grant anticipation revenue vehicle bonds and no cash.
Beshear said he expected the special session to take only one day. Another matter on the agenda is a bill implementing a prescription-drug abuse program.
Meanwhile, the two states are moving forward quickly to get teams in place to build the Ohio River project.
A design-build approach will be used by Kentucky, while Indiana is using a public-private partnership to design, build, finance, operate and maintain its half.
Five teams responded to Kentucky’s RFQ and a review committee will narrow the list to three by mid-April. The winning team will be selected in October to build a new downtown Interstate 65 bridge, overhaul the existing Kennedy Bridge, rebuild the downtown Louisville interchange and install new Interstate connections in southern Indiana.
The Indiana Finance Authority last week said that six consortiums responded to its RFQ for its portion of the project, which is being called the East End Crossing.
A short list of proposers will be released April 23 and be invited to submit proposals.
The East End projects include building a new bridge across the Ohio River connecting Kentucky 841/I-265 with State Road 265 at SR 62 in southeastern Clark County, Ind.
A who’s who of national and international firms have responded to both RFQs. Some firms that have shown interest in both states include Skanska Infrastructure Development Inc., Fluor Enterprises Inc., Kiewit Development Co., Flatiron Constructors Inc. and Dragados USA Inc.
The entire project is still waiting for federal approval of the supplemental final environmental impact statement.
The two new bridges, as well as the existing Kennedy Bridge, will be tolled at $1 per crossing for frequent commuters with transponder devices, and $2 for other cars, SUVs, and passenger vehicles without transponders. Tolls will be $5 for panel trucks and $10 for tractor trailers.