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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After decades of waiting, we'll finally see construction on the Ohio River Bridges Project next week. The groundbreaking will not just be ceremonial. The first phase of the East End Bridge will begin soon. In fact, the contractor has already begun prep work for it. Governors from both Indiana and Kentucky are expected to be at the ceremony next Thursday.
"I've been hearing about this bridge for 40 years, now it's time to build it and stop all the talk of it," said Utica resident Jimmy Carter. He has been waiting on a bridge since the real Jimmy Carter was President. A little less conversation about the bridge, and a little more action is about to happen. The groundbreaking for the bridge will be at the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville next Thursday. The East End Bridge will provide an alternative crossing for many drivers and for big rigs that bring cargo to the port. "They're going to employ quite a few thousand people just to get this bridge built. It's going to be a great help to the little town of Utica," said Carter.
The groundbreaking is for the first construction on the entire Ohio River Bridges project. Work will soon begin on a road eventually connecting the future East End Bridge with the River Ridge Commerce Center. The road alone must be finished by 2013.
The other side of the East End Bridge will end up in Kentucky, where John Grey's neighbors used to live. "We'll be seeing the pillars supporting the bridge rather than the bridge (which) will be at least the height of our home," said Grey.
He's not happy about a bridge next to his home, but says progress is progress. "You are gonna have a front row view to all of the construction?" asked reporter Rachel Collier. "Yes, which is not a blessing!" Grey laughed.
Homes have been cleared in the Shadow Wood neighborhood to make way for a tunnel that will preserve the historic Drumanard Estate. The East End Bridge won't be finished until 2017.
"If I can hold out for another five years, I hope to be around here to see it completed," Carter added.
The East End Bridge is Indiana's responsibility in the $2.6 billion project. The Downtown Crossing is Kentucky's responsibility.
This includes building a new I-65 Bridge, and rebuilding Spaghetti Junction. Kentucky will award a contract in December, and construction will begin in early 2013.