Countdown Begins to Bridge Opening
Counting down to the opening of the new Downtown Ohio River Bridge, US Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez today revisited the site of the ground breaking ceremony he had attended two years ago, witnessing firsthand the dramatically changed landscape. The groundbreaking site now sits in the shadow of a nearly-complete bridge that will be open to interstate traffic in less than four months.
Kentucky Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen said the project would be transformational for the region. “We can already tell that the bridge will be beautiful,” Luallen said. “And we know it will mean safer, more efficient daily commutes for many local residents. But the real transformation will be in the economic impact of this bridge, throughout the region. This bridge will produce an additional 15,000 jobs and add $29.5 billion in personal income to the local economy.”
“When I stood here two years ago, we were celebrating an idea – a plan for a transformative transportation project,” Sec. Mendez said. “But now, as we watch the final pieces come into place, we are celebrating a concrete example of what this administration means when it talks about creating an America that is built to last.”
“Louisville commuters have been able to watch this new bridge rise from the river,” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Sec. Mike Hancock said. “Today, all of us can see the way it towers above us. But the true measure of this bridge will be taken by the generations that come after us. This is the infrastructure they will use for decades to come, to build the economy of tomorrow.”
Final Pieces Coming Together
Sec. Mendez’s visit is part of a crescendo of activities leading up to the opening of the cable-stayed bridge, which is the centerpiece of the Downtown Crossing Portion of the Ohio River, in less than four months.
• By mid-October, the bridge will be its “final shape” with all 88 stay cables in place
• By late-October, the bridge deck should extend from bank to bank, with all piers connected
• By late fall, the deck of the bridge should be poured
• By January, the bridge will be open to two-way traffic (the bridge will eventually carry only Northbound traffic)
When the new bridge opens to two-way traffic, crews with Walsh Construction will begin making $22 million dollars worth of improvements to the Kennedy Bridge. A new floor system will be built on top of existing floor beams, adding decades of new life to the nearly 52-year-old bridge. At first, the Kennedy Bridge will be closed except for one lane, and will then be completely closed for part of the improvement work. The entire Downtown Crossing – meaning the new cable-stayed bridge, the improved Kennedy Bridge and the interstate connections on both sides of the river – is expected to be complete in December 2016.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the bridges project is not only a vital link in the logistics network – which is an important economic driver in a city that is a logistics capital – but is also a symbol of a new era in Louisville. “We are done with the days when we talked for decades before putting a shovel in the dirt,” Fischer said. “We are entering an era of unprecedented investment in the infrastructure needed for a mid-21st Century economy.”
U.S. Representative John Yarmuth said: “We talked about this bridge for so long, that even when we broke ground, I know a lot of people had their doubts. But here we are! No one is doubting the future of this bridge now!”
Jeffersonville, Ind., Mayor Mike Moore said the bridge marks a giant leap forward in the transportation grid for the entire region. “Two years ago, it was hard to fully imagine the size and scope of this bridge. In the same way, two years from now we will be amazed at the size and the scope of the impact this bridge is making on our community and our local economy.”
Find more information on the Ohio River Bridges Project at www.kyinbridges.com.