December 11, 1997
Today the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the state of Indiana have committed to a historic agreement for the Louisville region.
Together weve agreed to build a bridge on the east-end of Jefferson county connecting with the Gene Snyder freeway, and to rebuild the Kennedy interchange including a new downtown bridge and reconstruction of the Court Avenue interchange in Jeffersonville.
To insure their success, both bridge projects will move together and forward as one project.
The pros and cons of both bridges have been debated for a long time.
I believe its now time to move forward with this project.
Two bridges, one project, accomplished jointly with cooperation, coordination, and consideration for the entire region.
Quality transportation is important to the Louisville region.
Transportation is the catalyst for our economy.
Kentuckys 762 miles of interstate carry an average of 34-thousand vehicles per day.
In the last decade, vehicle travel on Kentuckys interstates increased 47-percent.
These numbers make a loud and clear statement.
Our transportation system truly is the engine that powers our economy and our basic way of life.
A sophisticated, fine tuned transportation system gives us a competitive advantage over other regions and even other nations.
Our bridge to the 21-st century will be built on a foundation of economic prosperity due to the availability of, and access to, good quality transportation.
Building these bridges will impact the region in many ways.
Travel times and congestion will be reduced.
Safety will be improved.
Connections with regional and national markets will be enhanced.
New jobs will be created and existing jobs will be retained.
This project, with two new bridges and a reconstructed Kennedy interchange, is the key to an efficient and viable transportation system to carry us throughout the next millenium.
It is the essential cog in the wheel.
The focus of my first term as governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky has been economic development.
If economic development is to occur in the region if the Louisville region is to become a first class economic hub of mid-America, then we must have a first class transportation system which includes these cross river connections.
I can not stress the importance of partnership enough here.
If the Kentuckiana region is to prosper, both sides of the river must work to complement each other.
Lets help build our future with this 500-million dollar project.
Now is the time to shift gears.
We must engage in regional thinking which transcends the state border and the physical and fiscal barrier which the Ohio river presents.
There are some who say that these bridges are too costly and the funding will never be available.
There are some who say that neither Kentucky nor Indiana can be trusted to fulfill their commitment to this project.
There are some who say that the two states and the communities on both sides of the river will never be able to set aside their differences and come together to make this project a reality.
This afternoon Governor OBannon and I are taking the first step toward proving those naysayers are just plain wrong.
Together, well find the funding for these bridges including the Kennedy interchange.
Together, our states will fulfill our commitments and obligation toward this project and the citizens we serve.
At this time . . . it is my privilege to introduce a man I respect, admire, and call a friend, Governor OBannon.