Pressure mounts on builders of East End bridge - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Pressure mounts on builders of East End bridge

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- We got close enough to almost reach out and touch the new East End Bridge today.

With the new Downtown Crossing Bridge days from completion, the pressure is mounting on the builders of the East End crossing.

"I'll tell you that, overall, we're about 78-percent complete with the construction," said INDOT Project Manager Ron Huestis. 

During Monday's river tour of the bridge, Project Director Rob Morphonios told us his greatest challenge is the weather.

"Downtown the cables went faster than expected," said WDRB's Gilbert Corsey. "Any chance this bridge will open early as well?"

"We'd like to, and if we can find a way to do that, we certainly will," Morphonios said.

Freezing temperatures and flooding resulted in lost work days the last two years. It has led to a new building strategy.

"This work that you see now, with all that temporary work holding things up from both sides, and launching the deck from Indiana side, are techniques we came up with to mitigate schedule impacts from bad weather," Morphonios said.

The WDRB Drone Cam recently soared above the two water set towers. We're now told they'll reach their peak -- 300 feet -- before Christmas. It is 1,200 feet from one tower in the water, to the next connecting the Indiana and Kentucky sides. What's holding it up in the middle? One-hundred and forty-one cables. 

Contractors on land have 10 of 13 new bridges done heading to the Indiana side of the new crossing -- and crews in Kentucky continue to work on the tunnel under U.S. 42. It can't get done soon enough for people in the neighborhood.

"Way worse than I imagined it was going to be," said one resident.

With work 24 hours a day, six days a week, many complain they haven't had peace in nearly two years -- and some say the drilling is damaging their homes. 

"To make the schedule, I wish we didn't have to do it, but it's kind of the nature of the game," Morphonios said.

Builders apologize for the inconvenience, yet remain more focused on the finish, and what it will mean to drivers around this time next year.

"One third cut in travel time, from one side of the river to the other," said Huestis. 

The entire Ohio River Bridges Project cost more than $2 billion. It includes two new bridges and a revamp in Spaghetti Junction.

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