GOV. BESHEAR: Downtown Bridge to be open by Christmas - WDRB 41 Louisville News

GOV. BESHEAR: Downtown Bridge to be open by Christmas

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has announced the Downtown Bridge will open ahead of schedule.

The announcement was made Monday morning.

The bridge will open to traffic before Christmas.

“In January, I stood at the base of this massive project and announced we were accelerating the schedule,” Gov. Beshear said. “Today, I’m walking on this beautiful new bridge and telling you we’re moving even faster than expected. Drivers will get an early present. You will be driving on the new bridge by Christmas.”

Gov. Beshear said the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and crews with Walsh Construction are on budget and ahead of schedule. 

Gov. Beshear also says plans are in the works for a public celebration ahead of the bridge's opening to traffic. Details about the celebration are expected to be released later.

“Over the coming decades, hundreds of thousands of people and cars will cross this bridge, but we’re creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before we open the bridge to vehicle traffic,” said Gov. Beshear. “Before the first car drives across this span, the public will have a chance to walk the new bridge. It’s an opportunity to be part of an historic celebration of an extraordinary project.”

Talks about building a new interstate bridge across the Ohio River in Louisville had been happening for several years, but became a reality in December 2011 when Gov. Beshear and then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told their staffs to make the project financially possible by cutting costs.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the bridge happened 18 months later, in June 2013.

The general public will have an opportunity to walk across the bridge prior to its official opening.

The bridge's exact opening date is not yet known.

When the new Downtown Bridge opens, it will temporarily carry two-way traffic.

Crews will begin making improvements to the adjacent John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge. More than $22 million in improvements are planned, including building a new floor system.

All but one lane of the Kennedy Bridge will close when the new bridge opens to traffic. One lane will stay open for about a month to allow access to I-64 and I-71 North.

The whole Kennedy Bridge is scheduled to then shut down for about six months. One lane of the Kennedy will re-open first, once again providing access to I-64 East and I-71 North. Drivers will again have access to I-64 West a short time later. The entire Kennedy Bridge is expected to reopen in late 2016.
 
The improved Kennedy Bridge will eventually carry six lanes of I-65 South traffic and the Downtown bridge will carry six lanes of I-65 North traffic.
 
The entire Downtown Crossing is expected to be finished in December 2016.

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