Sunday, June 10, 2012

Star Finally Talks About Bad Bridge Deal

Five months after I wrote about an analysis Aaron Renn had performed of a one-sided, bi-state plan between Indiana and Kentucky to build two new bridges over the Ohio River at Louisville that has Indiana picking up the bulk of the cost for the new bridges, the Star finally gets around to writing a story about it. Unfortunately, the story only discusses one aspect of the problem with the plan--the construction of a costly tunnel on the Kentucky side. The story is titled "Why Indiana is paying $255 million to tunnel under Kentucky's trees." The story begins:

All that stands between Indiana taxpayers and $200 million in savings is 11 acres of woods in Kentucky.
They are not particularly attractive trees. And their value is widely disputed -- even in Kentucky. But preservationists who wanted to stop an Ohio River bridge project decades ago were able to secure a historic designation for the property; and the bridge project is now moving forward.
So Indiana is paying $255 million to bore a tunnel under the trees. It's a payment some say is necessary to preserve a narrow slice of history, others to preserve interstate harmony, and still others because, well, the rules are the rules. Changing them would take time.
But even as engineers gear up to begin the project, others insist it's an immense taxpayer boondoggle.
"The tunnel is a terrible abuse of taxpayers' money," said Anne Northup, Louisville's congresswoman from 1996 to 2006. "It's an outrage in terms of what it accomplishes versus the cost." . . .
I'm not sure why Rep. Northrop is complaining. It's Indiana taxpayers who are essentially picking up the tab for Kentucky's costs. It's Indiana's taxpayers, not Kentucky's, who are being abused. The Star story totally misses that point. Click here to read Renn's four part story on this boondoggle.

UPDATE: Aaron Renn has penned a new post in response to the Star's Sunday feature story, which he notes misses the larger picture. "This is a deal that will live in infamy as Indiana’s worst transportation finance decision since the 1830s epic canal fiasco that bankrupted the state. I cannot think of another governor in modern times who so clearly acted contrary to his own constituents’ financial interests in a transportation project," Renn writes.


Pete Boggs said...

Often, post injury, we're left with the Scar.

The Urbanophile said...

Thanks for the mention, Gary.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thank you, Aaron, for taking the time to point out what a bad deal this was for Indiana taxpayers.

Jeff Cox said...

I don't know how the machinations of obnoxious NIMBY's is the fault of Indiana government. The fact is that both Indiana and Kentucky want the bridges. The fact is that money has already been poured into it by acquiring the properties. Unless you want all that money to have gone for nothing you gotta build the bridge.

Pete Boggs said...

Imagine, this story in the Scar has found its way to Drudge but Aaron deserves the credit.