Final steel span of East End Bridge hoisted today
It means more than two years of construction is in its final four months.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- You can start the countdown clock to the opening of the new East End bridge today -- Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 -- after one piece went into place, signifying that the end is in sight.
On Monday morning, on the Indiana side of the Ohio River in Utica, construction crews could be seen hoisting the final steel span of the East End Bridge, finally linking the two sides -- Utica, Indiana, and Prospect, Kentucky. It means more than two years of construction is in its final four months.
"It's quite a testament to all the men and women who have worked so many hours over really rough and tough conditions to meet this milestone," said WVB East End Partners project manager Rob Morphonios.
Morphonios expects the bridge to open to drivers before Christmas. Between now and then he said crews will lay the road, tighten and adjust the 104 cables holding the bridge in place, work on aesthetics like painting and lighting, and put up barrier walls and railing.
All the action today brought out a growing group known as "Bridge Watchers." Many have been documenting this process all along the way.
One of them is Carl Morrow.
"I said, 'I got to get home and get my camera,' and called my wife and said, 'they're setting that last section today,'" Morrow said.
Morrow wasn't alone.
"I'd imagine it takes some time to do that," said Laura Meyer of Meyer Christmas Trees.
The holiday came early for Laura and Mike Meyer. The owners of Meyer Christmas Trees provided a 10-foot-tall white pine to culminate the project.
"It's the ironworkers' tradition that if no one is killed on a job, that they put a live evergreen tree and and an American flag on the last piece of steel that goes on a project," Laura Meyer said.
She said she's glad this project is in the home stretch. This bridge had been talked about for more than 40 years.
"There were times when we didn't think it would be completed in our lifetimes," she said. "They were talking about the bridges for so many years, and now to see it being almost finished up is amazing."
With the countdown to completion well underway, Morrow has just one last picture to get.
"Yup," Morrow said. "When they open it."
"I'm up here everyday," he added. "I have them on my chip and I'm going to get them developed and put them in a scrapbook."
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