Decades ago, a group of residents in the area lobbied to have the woodlands placed on the National Register of Historic Places in order to halt construction of a bridge across the Ohio River, between Kentucky and Indiana. They succeeded and they didn't. After years of negotiations, work on the I-265 bridge is proceeding. The "historic" woodlands stand directly in its path.
So INDOT is digging, to the tune of $130,000 per foot. And Indiana taxpayers don't like it. Neither do some of those residents in Jefferson County.
In Southern Indiana, residents view the woodlands and required tunnel as “a boondoggle to escalate the cost of the project to the point of trying to make it too costly to build,” Clarksville Town Council President John Gilkey told reporters. “The property they have identified as being historically significant ...has almost no significance as far as the people in this county are concerned.”
Even residents of Kentucky, who aren't footing the bill for the bridge, think it's a gyp. “The tunnel is a terrible abuse of taxpayers' money” said former Kentucky congresswoman Anne Northrup. “It's an outrage in terms of what it accomplishes versus the cost.”
In December, Louisville resident and Indiana businessman Denis Frankenberger appealed to have remove the parcel from the National Register of Historic Places. The Kentucky Heritage Council, the state agency charged with historical protections, declined.
Indiana and Kentucky have evaluated other sites in order to avoid the woodlands, but none is as desirable.
Nevertheless, Indiana residents want to know why they should have to pay for the tunnel.
Some homeowners near the woodlands agree. “Unless Daniel Boone slept there, I can't understand why the [woodlands were listed.],” said Bob Stewart.
Another homeowner, Paulette Breit, says she doesn't recall hearing much about the woodlands “until all the bridge stuff.”
The kicker: The National Register designation was due in part to a landscape plan that Frederick Law Olmstead's firm designed for the area. Only it doesn't appear that the 11 acres of woodlands, part of a larger parcel known as Drumanard, was included in the plan.