LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Abraham Lincoln Bridge, the centerpiece of the Downtown Crossing portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project, is expected to open to traffic by Monday, Dec. 7. at 5 a.m.

I-65 North traffic will shift first. I-65 South traffic will follow later in the month. A number of significant traffic changes will accompany the shift.

Before traffic moves to the new bridge, however, the public is invited to get an up-close look at the bridge. Walk the Bridge festivities are Saturday, December 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

According to Mindy Peterson, the bridge will open to the public from 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. Dec. 5, and the first 10,000 people to cross will receive a memento. Peterson says thousands of people are expected to attend. 

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.

"The very first thing you do is to walk up the ramp," Peterson said. And then you have about another 1,000 feet to walk across the approach to the bridge. And then the bridge itself is just over 2,000 feet. And it's not walking across the bridge, it's really doing a circuit. So if you complete that entire route doing nearly the length of the bridge you're going to land right back at the bottom of the ramp, and it's going to be just over a mile-and-a-half."

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. No pets, bicycles, skateboards or rollerblades will be allowed on the bridge. Peterson says no food or drink will be allowed on the walk. 

Limited parking for bikes is available in a number of locations in Jeffersonville.

When the Lincoln Bridge opens Dec. 7, it will temporarily carry two-way traffic. There will be no tolls to cross the bridge until a later date. Crews will begin making improvements to the adjacent Kennedy Bridge in a few weeks. 

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 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.

One Long-Term Ramp Closure Ends, Another Begins 
The first ramp closure associated with the Downtown Crossing is coming to an end. The ramp from I-64 East to I-65 South is scheduled to reopen to traffic by 5 a.m. on Sunday, December 6. It’s been closed since July 2013.
 
The ramp was initially scheduled to close for 1,000 days, but is opening early because of the accelerated schedule to open the cable-stayed bridge to traffic. The accelerated schedule allows for more extensive improvements to the Kennedy Bridge.
 
As drivers traveling from the west to Downtown Louisville regain direct access to I-65 South, they will lose direct access to I-65 North. The ramp from I-64 East to I-65 North is closing to traffic. It’s scheduled to close around 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 5.
 
This is a long-term closure, with the ramp expected to be closed until late 2016. Signed detours will be in place to help drivers reach their destinations. Around 8,400 drivers use the ramp on a daily basis. A new ramp will be built during the closure. It’s expected to open by late 2016.
 
New Travel Patterns for Drivers 
Drivers will notice some significant changes to their usual travel routes as I-65 North traffic is moved to the new bridge. Drivers are urged to slow down and allow themselves extra time, especially the first few days of the transition.
 
Drivers Accessing the Bridge from I-65 North
The split from I-65 North to I-64 East/I-71 North will be shifting south, closer to Muhammad Ali Boulevard. The shift is expected to happen by 5 a.m. on Saturday, December 5.
 
When the Lincoln Bridge opens to northbound traffic, drivers will notice additional changes as they approach the bridge. Two lanes will split right, carrying traffic to I-64 East, I-71 North and I-65 North. A lane splitting to the left will provide direct access to I-65 North.
 
The new configuration is part of the collector-distributor system helping to untangle Spaghetti Junction. Traffic is being organized and funneled to its destination, ending some of the short merges and tight weaves that have been part of the Kennedy Interchange.
 
Drivers Accessing the Lincoln Bridge from Eastern Jefferson County 
When the bridge opens to northbound traffic, drivers accessing it from Eastern Jefferson County and Oldham County will notice a significant change. Drivers traveling from I-64 West and I-71 South to I-65 North will split to the right to access I-65 North and the Lincoln Bridge.
 
Traffic previously split to the left to access I-65 North and right to access I-65 South. This movement will flip with the new traffic pattern, with I-65 South to the left and I-65 North to the right. This is the new, permanent configuration. The change will be in place when the Lincoln Bridge opens to traffic, which is expected to happen by 5 a.m. on Monday, December 7.
 
Direct Access to I-65 North Restored for Drivers in Southern Indiana 
There’s good news for drivers traveling north on the Clark Memorial Bridge. The new flyover ramp, providing direct access from US 31 North to I-65 North, will soon open to traffic. It’s been under construction since summer 2014.
 
During construction, a detour took drivers through Jeffersonville to the 10th Street ramp to access I-65 North. The new ramp provides a direct connection to I-65 North. It’s expected to open by 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 5.

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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