As mayor-elect Irv Stumler spins the Wheel of Party Affiliation and signs warrants for the arrest of Tree Commission members in preparation for his emergency deforestation plan — gotta get those damned tree limbs away from the street — let’s look at recent developments on the billionaire’s mobility boondoggle front.
I couldn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting, but Braden Lammers of the Evening News explains that the fight against tolls continues, with local officials gathering with Southern Indiana No Bridge Tolls group to listen as Tom Galligan, Jeffersonville mayor-for-life, says he’s heavy against tolls and will at the same time reserve judgment until final plans are announced. Profiles in re-election courage, indeed.
With a River Runyon Through the Fields hit squad in hot pursuit, the Courier-Journal’s Marcus Green seeks to evade the strictures of the Hawpe Code, noting that cheaper Ohio River bridges plan may open door to more delays (that’s a hopeful thing), and then offering this fly-on-the-wall view of saintly elected public advocates in prayerful action: Bridges plan changes hatched at December meeting in Indianapolis.
Green omits the wonderful story making the bedtime story rounds in which Rep. Clere heroically stows away on the Beechcraft King Air amid storms and turbulence to beseech St. Daniels thah he must listen to the earnest wailings of battered constituents, with Daniels responding, “Before or after the lashings continue?”, and Clere answering, “Why, yes.”
And then there’s the one about the forever unctuous David Nicklies, as relayed by Lammers in his knee-slapping account of yesterday’s meeting of River Ridge commerce center’s budgetary bigwigs.
While the bulk of the revenue for River Ridge will be designated for the bond payments and infrastructure improvements, David Nicklies, chairman of the Bridges Coalition was present to ask for additional support for the Ohio River Bridges Project.
“We’re needing to raise about another $150,000 to $175,000 to get through this year of what we’ve already got committed,” he said.
Last year, River Ridge committed $50,000 to the Bridges Coalition to be disbursed in quarterly payments of $12,500. The coalition has spent the funding it has received on marketing and educational purposes.
While Nicklies said the coalition has been lobbying at the state and federal levels, part of the marketing campaign has been directed toward answering local anti-toll groups.
“There has been a huge anti-toll effort [and] they’ve actually been fairly organized,” he said.
Nicklies mentioned the groups’ frequent attendance at the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority meetings and a petition of 10,000 signatures the group’s organizers sent to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
“We’re spending a lot of time putting those fires out and talking about the silent 95 percent which you don’t hear from all the time,” Nicklies said.
Marketing and advertising efforts have been directed to outcry against the initial figure of $3 tolls used to provide an update for the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency’s long-range plan.
“We said politically that was a disaster,” Nicklies said of the $3 toll figure. “Then, we put the $1 commuter toll on the table and we were able to get the bi-state authority to roll that out, which got us into a little more positive mode.”
He continued and said the next 12 months for the project will be critical and referenced the bi-state authority’s upcoming industry forum.
“They’re going to invite design-build firms from all over the world to come in, look at the project, put teams together to come back and see how they can deliver a $3.5 billion project, hopefully for $2.5 billion or less,” Nicklies said.
Don’t look at me. You’re the one who keeps voting for them.