LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The date has been set for the public celebration to be held in advance of the new Downtown bridge opening to traffic. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will cut the ribbon, and the public is invited to “Walk the Bridge” on Saturday, December 5.

According to Mindy Peterson, the bridge will open to the public from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 5, and the first 10,000 people to cross will receive a memento. 

In October, Gov. Steve Beshear and other officials from both sides of the river announced the bridge would open well ahead of schedule, in December. 

“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.”

When the new bridge opens, it will temporarily carry two-way traffic.That date has not been set.

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.

Public access to the bridge, by foot and by shuttle, will be from Jeffersonville on Dec. 5. Parking will be available at Water Tower Square (300 Missouri Avenue) and Colston Park (301 Mulberry Street). Jeffersonville Police will be assisting with traffic control.

TARC buses and City of Jeffersonville trolleys will provide free shuttle service from Water Tower Square. Court Avenue will be closed to traffic from North Shore Drive to Ohio Avenue to facilitate pedestrian and shuttle transport.

The ramp from I-65 North to Court Avenue will be closed to provide access to the bridge. Shuttles and trolleys will drop passengers at the end of the ramp, with participants walking to the deck of the bridge.

After walking up the ramp (1,000 feet), participants will walk the approach to the bridge (1,000 feet) and have the opportunity to walk nearly the length of the bridge (2,100 feet), before returning to the Court Avenue ramp. A complete circuit will total more than 1 ½ miles.

No pets, bicycles, skateboards or rollerblades will be allowed on the bridge. Limited parking for bikes is available in a number of locations in Jeffersonville.

Traffic on the Bridge

A date for when the bridge will open to traffic has not been set. I-65 North lanes will shift first, with lanes of I-65 South to follow.

Crews with lead contractor Walsh Construction Co. will then begin $22 million in improvements to the adjacent John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge, adding decades of new life to the 52-year old bridge.  

All but one lane of the Kennedy Bridge will close when the new bridge opens to traffic. One lane will remain open for about a month to maintain access to I-64 and I-71 North. The entire Kennedy Bridge will then close for about six months. One lane of the Kennedy will reopen first, restoring access to I-64 East and I-71 North. Access to I-64 West will be restored a short time later. The entire Kennedy Bridge is expected to reopen in late 2016.

The revamped 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 – the new cable-stayed bridge, the improved Kennedy Bridge and interstate connections on both sides of the river – is scheduled to be complete in December 2016.

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