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Ohio River Bridges Project commits Metro Louisville to an unjust and polluting regional transportation plan

“The Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA) provides regional planning, review, and technical services for the Louisville Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), and is often referred to as being the Louisville MPO. The Louisville MPO serves the following counties: Oldham, Bullitt, and Jefferson in Kentucky; Clark, Floyd, and 1/10th of a square mile of Harrison in Indiana.”


The Transportation Policy Committee (TPC) carries out key policy functions and directs the transportation planning process for the Louisville (KY-IN) Metropolitan Planning Area (MPA) in accordance with the Federal Transportation Act, SAFETEA-LU. Such responsibilities include cooperative transportation planning and programming, including the review and approval of appropriate plans, implementation programs, and other similar items.

The chief elected official of each unit of local government within the MPA that is represented on the KIPDA Board of Directors is a voting member of the TPC. In addition to elected officials, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary, the Indiana Department of the Transportation Commissioner, the Indiana Department Chief of Transportation Division, the Chair of the Transit Authority of River City Board of Directors, and other officials and agencies as agreed by the TPC are voting members. Non-voting, or advisory members, are added or deleted as agreed by the TPC. The TPC is a forum for developing consensus on policy actions among the various jurisdictions.

Right: The 2012 KIPDA membership is shown. The roster includes members of the industrial lobbying group-GLI, indicative of the pro-growth  business capture of the planning organization.

See the KIPDA home page:  <http://www.kipda.org/>

There is no board member from the environmental organizations though such a position would soon be occupied by a pliant, token representative --of which many abound. 

Congress decreed the structure and membership of MPOs in  23 USC § 134(d) :


  1. (2)STRUCTURE.—Each metropolitan planning organization that serves an area designated as a transportation management area, when designated or redesignated under this subsection, shall consist of

(A) local elected officials;

(B) officials of public agencies that administer or operate major modes of transportation in the metropolitan area; and

(C) appropriate State officials.


This law needs to be changed because putting elected municipal officials in charge of regional transportation planning means good science falls under the wheels of politics.

Mayors and County Judges are the top leaders in Democratic or Republican political machines engaged in a money hungry, gloves off, fight for elected offices. Local politicians are too sensitive to the demands of the monied interests who are also major campaign donors. The campaigning politicians bring their electability concerns to the role of regional transportation planning.

Concepts such as reducing global warming, implementing long term sustainability, transitioning to low fuel consumption transit alternatives, and correcting social injustice, upset local marketplace relationships and cannot be tolerated. Politicians will never be planners that say ‘no’ to powerful car dealership lobbies, engineering contractors and concrete suppliers--the backbone of the municipal economy.  Politicians cannot survive an election with a green agenda or one that places future sustainability above current business plans. 

The adopted Horizon 2030, when finally built will leave west end Louisville without effective affordable transit to jobs being created in the east end. The regional plan is auto dependent and based on the idea that future workers will be able to afford auto loans, auto insurance, four dollar a gallon or higher gasoline,  as they commute long distances across the county to jobs.

The May 21 Connecting Kentuckiana KIPDA public consultation meeting at the Science Museum was a bust. The planning agency’s regional plans resulting in the Bridges Project, will demand that Kentuckians fork over at least $2.9 billion dollars out of their pockets. But on May 21, most folks either weren’t aware the agencies potent decisions were offered for comment, or they couldn’t break away from working a second job to show up and complain.

Kentuckians have a lot to lose if Connecting Kentuckiana becomes a stealth public outreach program that comes and goes with little public participation. There is a lot wrong with the KIPDA Planning agency--as I point out below--and the resulting regional transportation plan will channel the economic activity of the region, making some areas winners and some areas ghettos.

The public consultation process in this vastly important planning process is being flashed through town with insufficient media support resulting in the empty room on May 21 where I was the lone commenter for a half hour. I was very cordially treated by the KIPDA staff, who encouraged my comments and took notes based on my mark up of a good regional map.

My chief complaint about the public outreach process was that it should be preceded by publication on the web of a ‘State of the Regional Transportation Plan’ document. The general public is fairly clueless about regional transportation planning and its impact on neighborhoods, commercial activity, air and water pollution, and where we are headed if gasoline suddenly increases in price.

The Connecting Kentuckiana must be supported with TV media and KIPDA should ask the TV stations for a minute on the news programs to make a public service pitch for folks to come out. Nobody did on May 21.

Regional Transportation Planning

Public participation and comment processes conducted by state agencies have devolved into a managed process where slick facilitators produce an appearance of the government actually  giving fair consideration to the ideas offered by the public.

But, when billions of dollars of engineering contracts are at stake, cabals of political and economic actors form up to influence the process to make sure the billions spent benefit their friends and supporters.

Thus the Congressional attempt to provide by law, public oversight in regional transportation planning, pits the un-funded local citizen, against the highly funded business community, whose political donations elect the officials who manage the MPO-metropolitan planning organization.

The result in Louisville, is a regional planning organization, the Transportation Planning Committee of KIPDA,  that has dispensed with light rail projects that could efficiently and sustainably move commuters to jobs and markets around the area. The powerful automobile lobby here has far more influence with the MPO than proponents of public transit.

“If social capital is the basis for cooperation and coordination in a network,” Vogel and Nezelkewicz argue, “then the cultural and regional divisions in the Louisville metropolis may indeed be the problems facing the MPO. Building social capital requires creating stronger ties among regional citizens and actors. Trust results from sustained interaction and dialogue.” (p. 128).

CART, a proponent of regional light rail,  engaged in numerous public consultation proceedings during the 90s with KIPDA and other agencies, attempting to produce strong ties between regional citizens and decision makers that would result in sound transportation planning.

Instead, a split occurred between economic development interests, and proponents of a sustainable, regional transportation system. Affordable public transit routes using light rail were discarded by the politically-appointed, KIPDA MPO decision makers. An underlying cause was privatization of the former ammunition plant in Clark County, Indiana that attracted a consensus of economic development interests and political figures at the state, local and federal level. The presence of major auto manufacturers and auto dealers associations in Louisville looking to establish supplier networks, and trucking routes along the Gene Snyder freeway corridor, caused further marginalization of public transit proponents and destroyed their influence with decision makers.

§ 134. Metropolitan transportation planning

(a) POLICY.—It is in the national interest to—

(1) encourage and promote the safe and efficient management, operation, and development of surface transportation systems that will serve the mobility needs of people and freight and foster economic growth and development within and between States and urbanized areas, while minimizing transportation related fuel consumption and air pollution through metropolitan and statewide transportation planning processes identified in this

chapter; and

(2) encourage the continued improvement and evolution of the metropolitan and statewide transportation planning processes by

metropolitan planning organizations, State departments of transportation, and public transit operators as guided by the planning factors identified in subsection (h) and section 135(d).



TIPS.—To accomplish the objectives in subsection

(a), metropolitan planning organizations designated under subsection (d), in cooperation with the State and public transportation operators, shall develop long-range transportation plans and transportation improvement programs for metropolitan planning

areas of the State.

(2) CONTENTS.—The plans and TIPs for each

metropolitan area shall provide for the development

and integrated management and operation of transportation systems and facilities (including accessible pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities) that will function as an intermodal transportation system for the metropolitan planning area and as an integral part of an intermodal transportation system for the State and the United


The 2011 Modified Alternative plan for the Ohio River Bridges Project will cost more than $ 2.916 Billion and is concrete multi-lane bridges and approaches for gasoline fueled automobiles.

As a sop to transit, $ 20 million, .7 %, will buy TARC some new buses, but the cash strapped agency will have to operate and maintain them on its own dime.


The Honorable Sherry Conner, Chair
Mayor of Shively

The Honorable John Logan Brent, Vice-Chair
Henry County Judge/Executive
The Honorable Jeff Gahan, Secretary/Treasurer
Mayor of New Albany
The Honorable Rob Rothenburger, 2011 Chair
Shelby County Judge/Executive




The Honorable Melanie Roberts
Bullitt County Judge/Executive
Ms. Debby Carter
Truck America Training, LLC


The Honorable Robert Hall
Mayor of Charlestown
The Honorable Les Young
President, Clark County Board of Commissioners
The Honorable John Gilkey
President, Clarksville Town Board
The Honorable Michael Moore
Mayor of Jeffersonville


The Honorable Steve Bush
President, Floyd County Commissioners


The Honorable Jason Scriber
Property Value Administrator, Henry County


The Honorable Greg Fischer
Mayor of Louisville

The Honorable Bill Dieruf
Mayor of Jeffersontown

The Honorable Bernard Bowling, Jr.
Mayor of St. Matthews

Ms. Eileen Pickett, Executive Vice President
Greater Louisville, Inc.


The Honorable Byron Chapman
2010 Chair


Ms. Karen Blake
Shelby County Fiscal Court


The Honorable David Voegele
Oldham County Judge/Executive

The Honorable John Black
Oldham County Deputy Judge/Executive


The Honorable Tom Hardesty
Mayor of Shelbyville


The Honorable Bill Karrer
Spencer County Judge/Executive

The Honorable David Goodlet
Magistrate, Mt. Eden


The Honorable Randy Stevens
Trimble County Judge/Executive

The Honorable Nolan Hamilton
Magistrate, District 1, Trimble County


Mr. Frank Chuppe
Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs

Scenes from the KIPDA Connecting Kentuckiana Public outreach meeting at the Science Museum on 5-21-2012. Few members of the public attended. Larry Chaney, standing, Director of Transportation on the KIPDA staff in the lobby at the museum

Bright and fluffy slide show plays on a five minute loop to an empty room. Transportation planners were on hand and gave very good discussion of the KIPDA region on maps and assisted in making public comments.

One of the comments I made was that the K&I Bridge should be rehabilitated to include a light rail connection to New Albany. This idea has been floated by CART member, Steven Greseth, and the KIPDA planners seemed supportive.

See more HERE