Sunday, October 31, 2004

Pa. firm to design bridge linking Louisville, Indiana

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A Pennsylvania company will design a proposed downtown bridge linking Louisville and southern Indiana.

The Michael Baker Corp. of Moon Township, Pa., beat out four finalists. The winning firm has designed 11 Ohio River bridges, including an award-winning span in Maysville. A five-member selection committee comprised of Kentucky and Indiana transportation officials met privately before announcing its decision on Friday.

Officials hailed the selection as an important step in the $1.9 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, which will produce two bridges and reconfigure so-called Spaghetti Junction, where three interstates converge in downtown Louisville.

Clay Maxwell Bailey, secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said Michael Baker was chosen "because of the strength their presentation and the strength of their qualifications."

State transportation officials declined to release Michael Baker's winning proposal, saying it's a preliminary document. The contract is expected to be finalized early next year.

Bailey said another selection committee would meet in two weeks to choose the firm to design a bridge connecting eastern Jefferson County and Southern Indiana.

Michael Baker and the four firms it defeated for the downtown bridge are also competing to design a bridge to connect Indiana with the city's east end. The others are HNTB of Kansas City, Mo.; Parsons Brinckerhoff of New York City; URS Corp of San Francisco; and TY Lin International of San Francisco.

The downtown bridge will be built east of the Kennedy Bridge and carries an estimated price tag of $185.1 million. The second bridge will connect eastern Jefferson County with Utica, Ind., and will cost an estimated $217 million. That designer will be announced in two weeks.

J.B. Williams, who will oversee the downtown project for Michael Baker, told said the bridge would be beautiful, practical and affordable.

Williams said the public would be heavily involved in the design process, through workshops and community meetings.

"We need to come up with a very good, efficient and working functional design that everyone loves and will take pride in when they see it build," Williams said.

Michael Baker is the 12th largest bridge design firm in the United States, according to Engineering News Record, a construction industry magazine.

In 1993, Michael Baker was selected to design the William H. Harsha Bridge in Maysville. That bridge has won several honors, including the 2001 Grand Conceptor Award for Engineering Excellence from the American Consulting Engineers Council.

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