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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After decades of talk, the Ohio River Bridges Project finally broke ground today, and there was plenty of ceremony surrounding the big event.
This project has been on and off the drawing board, literally for decades. Today was a day to celebrate and look forward to what happens next.
Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore welcomed the crowd.
"Welcome to Jeffersonville, welcome to the future."
It was a celebration of the future with a nod to the past. Dignitaries arriving in Mustangs built in 1969, the year the east end bridge was first placed in Kentucky's long-range transportation plan.
The groundbreaking was the culmination of 43 years of bridge-building of a different kind.
"We are here today because we built bridges over the last few years. Because we worked together across state lines, across party lines and across bottom lines to do the right thing for the citizens of Kentucky and Indiana," said Ky. Governor Steve Beshear.
"I'm confessing, Sunday morning I'll ask pardon for it, but right now I'm feeling little bit vindicated," said Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
Vindication, as well, for those who fought for the project for years.
"Everybody we talked to said, it's never going to happen, just forget about it, go do something else, but it's happening and praise God," said former Jefferson Co. Judge Executive Rebecca Jackson.
"I never gave up, by the way. In every office I've held, including the one I hold now, an appointed one, I've been promoting to get this bridge built," said former Louisville Mayor Dave Armstrong.
Today's event was strictly ceremonial. This is where the construction will actually begin this fall on the widening and extension of Old Salem Rd.
As far as the building of the actual bridges, Kentucky and Indiana will award those big contracts soon.
"Wingfield We each have a shortlisted grouping of contracting teams that have been qualified to bid on the bridges project and we both anticipate having contracts awarded by the end of this year," said Will Wingfield of the Indiana Dept. of Transportation.
But this was a day to celebrate dreams already fulfilled, and faith in the future.
"Years and years from now, when these bridges are real, each person who participated will be able to say with real pride, I was part of that," said Daniels.
The east end bridge is scheduled to be finished in 2017 and the downtown crossing in 2018.