Lessons From a Failed Anti-Highway Campaign

A decade-long campaign to stop the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges project in Louisville has apparently lost out to intrenched interests. With the help of the campaign's founders, Angie Schmitt examines where the popular grassroots effort went wrong.

"At $2.6 billion, the Ohio River Bridges project in Louisville, Kentucky, is the costliest in the state’s history. It includes 18 elevated lanes, two enormously expensive bridges, a mammoth raised interchange, and a $225 million tunnel under an undeveloped suburban property (“Indiana’s Big Dig“)," writes Schmitt. 

"For years, Louisville residents J.C. Stites and Tyler Allen fought for a more humane, down-to-earth solution." Stities and Allen built a large grassroots organization to back their proposal to replace the elevated portion of I-64 adjacent to downtown Louisville with a boulevard. Even Michael Kimmelman weighed in against the highway expansion in a column for The New York Times

But with the recent approval of $753 million in bonding for the project, it appears their efforts have failed. "Allen and Stites say they underestimated how committed their opponents were to the bridge plan, and how many political allies they had," notes Schmitt. 

“Pretty quickly it became clear that the mayor was adamantly against [their proposal] and that he had the local newspaper in his camp,” said Stites. “We weren’t successful in convincing them that this was a compromise they should support.”

Full Story: Grassroots Efforts “Crushed” by Louisville’s $2.6 Billion Bridge Boondoggle


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