Suggested plans for a future Interstate 69 bridge between Evansville and Henderson, Kentucky include removing one of the existing bridges between the two cities.
Members of the public who spoke during a hearing in Evansville Tuesday night were largely opposed to the idea.
The route recommended by the I-69 Ohio River Crossing Project Team calls for tearing down the southbound U.S. Highway 41 Twin Bridge and building a new I-69 toll bridge a bit to the east. The team announced its suggestion in a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) published in December.
The team is still studying whether drivers would have to pay a toll to use the remaining Twin Bridge.
Almost all the business leaders and community members prefer no toll on Highway 41. Many prefer both bridges to stay open.
Keeping both bridges was not in the project team’s recommendation. Spokesperson Mindy Peterson says that doesn’t mean it’s off the table.
"Nothing is finalized at this point," Peterson says. "The fact of the matter is, we know we have a funding gap. A very large funding gap."
Peterson says keeping an additional bridge open would add almost $150 million to that gap. The project team's recommended route already costs an estimasted $1.497 billion.
The project team plans to confirm its preferred route in a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) later this year. Final approval would come through a record of decision from the Federal Highway Administration.
Peteson says the team will reach out the public if recommendations change substatially between the draft and the final version.
The bridge would be ready for traffic in 2025 if funding falls into place.