Major work finishes on budget and ahead of schedule
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Nov. 18, 2016) – After decades of discussion and nearly 3½ years of construction, the Ohio River Bridges Project has reached a historic milestone – the opening of a new downtown Louisville interchange and 12 travel lanes on two interstate bridges linking Kentucky and Indiana.
Hundreds gathered at Louisville Waterfront Park Friday to celebrate the end of interstate and ramp closures and the start of safer, faster travel across the Ohio River. Walsh Construction and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet are finishing the nearly $1.3 billion Downtown Crossing on budget and ahead of schedule.
The Downtown Crossing is one-half of the $2.3 billion Louisville – Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project. Kentucky took the lead on the Downtown Crossing and Indiana took the lead on the East End Crossing.
More than 40 years of debate, negotiating and planning led to this day, said Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton. “This is a great day for Kentucky, for Indiana and especially for the people who travel back and forth between the two states,” said Hampton. “This project means a safer and faster trip for thousands of drivers every day, and it makes it easier for Kentucky and Indiana companies to do business.”
The Downtown Crossing includes the new Abraham Lincoln Bridge that will carry six lanes of I-65 North traffic, the improved Kennedy Bridge that carries six lanes of I-65 South traffic and improved interstate connections on both sides of the river.
“The true impact of this massive project will be seen in the economy of our region,” said Indiana Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb. “This project is expected to have an economic impact of $87 billion and support 15,000 new jobs over the next three years. We’re already seeing businesses recognizing the opportunities. I’m excited to be here today and I look forward to seeing the new East End bridge open to traffic in a few short weeks.”
Ground was broken on the Downtown Crossing in July 2013, with Walsh Construction serving as lead contractor on the project. The project included the construction of more than 60 new ramps and overpasses and nearly 50 miles of new roadway. At the height of the project, more than 800 people worked on the Downtown Crossing.
The Downtown Crossing nearly doubled cross-river capacity in Downtown Louisville, with the Kennedy and Lincoln bridges carrying a combined 12 lanes of interstate traffic.
Interstate work included revamping the Kennedy Interchange, where I-64, I-65 and I-71 come together. The interchange had been known as Spaghetti Junction. Improvements were made to organize traffic, eliminating difficult weaves and giving drivers more time to merge.
The Downtown Crossing has improved safety, increased cross-river mobility and opened the door to new economic opportunities. “This is a transformative era of construction and investment in downtown Louisville,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “For the last 3 ½ years, the most visible symbol of this growth has been the new Lincoln Bridge.”
The many people who have played a role in the project were invited to return to the site of July 2013 groundbreaking to celebrate crossing the finish line. Commemorative tokens were distributed, selfie frames were available for photos and a special Snapchat filter was in place. People attending the event were encouraged to use #WeMadeIt.
Work Will Continue
While most closures will end and interstates are expected to be flowing freely, work on the Downtown Crossing will continue.
Occasional lane and ramp closures are possible as finishing touches are made to the project.
Punch list items, including work on surface streets, will continue into early spring. Additional work will include final striping, grading, streetscaping and planting.