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Kentucky-Indiana: Implementation of Louisville-South Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project

Agency: Federal Highway Administration

Criteria for ACHP Involvement:

  • This project could have substantial effects on important historic properties, including numerous individual properties as well as historic districts, some of which possess exceptional quality (Criterion 1).

  • There is substantial public concern about effects to historic properties, especially regarding construction of an eastern Ohio River crossing (Criterion 3).

Recent Developments

In May 2001, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) convened a workshop for consulting parties to discuss Section 106 compliance for the proposed construction of new crossings of the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky. Issues discussed at the meeting included FHWA’s role in the Section 106 process to date, the project’s area of potential effect (APE), the scope and consistency of the identification of historic properties, tribal involvement, the project schedule, and the need for additional studies and documentation. Further comments were provided by the consulting parties in mid-July 2001 during a two-day tour of the project area.

Downtown Louisville, Kentucky, site of proposed bridge


Downtown Louisville, Kentucky, site of proposed bridge (staff photo)



FHWA has proposed a general APE for the overall project as well as alternative-specific APEs. Some consulting parties have expressed concern that the overall APE does not encompass the entire area impacted by indirect and cumulative effects of the project and that the alternative-specific APEs do not adequately address all effects of the project on historic properties.

Most importantly, consulting parties continue to question the legitimacy of the transportation need for construction of both a downtown bridge and a new eastern bridge at this time. Consulting parties have also asked FHWA to apply consistent standards to the identification and evaluation of historic properties. ACHP recommended that any disagreements regarding eligibility should be resolved by the Keeper of the National Register.

In response to such comments, FHWA is considering expanding the APE and has sought the Keeper’s formal evaluation for certain properties. FHWA has also completed a draft assessment of effects and will host a consultation meeting on October 3, 2001, to discuss these findings. FHWA expects to complete its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by October 31, 2001. Meanwhile, in September 2001, consulting party River Fields, Inc., filed suit in Federal district court seeking an injunction to cause FHWA to provide documentation requested by the organization during the Section 106 process.


The State transportation agencies of Kentucky and Indiana propose to construct two bridges over the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky—one between downtown Louisville and Jeffersonville, Indiana, and a new eastern crossing between Jefferson County, Kentucky, and Clark County, Indiana. (For more information on the project, visit Louisville is Kentucky’s largest metropolitan area and has experienced considerable growth during the past decade, mostly in eastern Jefferson County. FHWA predicts a 35 per cent increase over existing travel demand volume in the project area by 2025.

Numerous and important individual historic properties and historic districts have been identified in the APE in urban and rural contexts. One of the most prominent properties, the Country Estates of River Road Historic District, is Kentucky’s only intact example of the era of country house construction. The historic district, whose period of significance ranges from 1875 to 1938, consists of 61 contributing buildings, sites, and structures. Archeological sites that could be of religious or cultural significance to Indian tribes have also been identified, but remain to be evaluated.

Not surprisingly, more than 20 consulting parties have been identified, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, Historic Landmarks of Indiana, the Clark County Historical Society, and River Fields, Inc.

The project will receive Federal funding from FHWA, which, in 1998, issued notice of the preparation of an EIS for the project. Various alternate corridors have been considered and are now reduced to a set that will be carried forward for review in the draft EIS. There are two downtown alternatives, along with a near east and several far east alternatives under consideration.

FHWA had anticipated that the draft EIS would be completed by summer 2000, with the final EIS completed in 2001. However, these deadlines were not met, and FHWA must now complete the draft by October 31, 2001. Accordingly, Section 106 consultation is on a fast track.

Policy Highlights

Consulting parties have argued that the project will lead to significant indirect and cumulative adverse effects in the form of sprawl development, especially in Indiana. The adequacy of the scope of the APE and of identification efforts to address these kinds of effects is in question.

Staff contact: Laura Henley Dean

Updated June 6, 2002

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