After 3 years and $2 billion, Ohio River Bridges Project just days from the finish line
It's taken three years of construction and $2 billion, but the new downtown crossing of the Ohio River is driving past a finish line.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's taken three years of construction and $2 billion, but the new downtown crossing of the Ohio River is driving past a finish line.
On Friday, leaders announced the end of the last major ramp closure on the Kennedy Bridge.
"What this means, short-term, bottom line, is a much faster, safer commute for drivers," said Mindy Peterson, Ohio River Bridges Project spokesperson.
As of Monday, drivers can get from I-65 South to I-64 West, an artery into downtown Louisville that's been closed last December. When that happens, all 12 lanes on the Kennedy and the new Lincoln Bridge will be open to traffic.
"We're going to reach substantial completion. That means we're basically done with construction," said Steven Schauer, project manager with Walsh Construction.
The end of construction marks the start of tolling and a new reality for drivers like Jeff Spaulding.
"I use the bridge and go into southern Indiana two to three times a week," Spaulding said.
There's no exact date yet for when he'll have to pay the cost to cross. Drivers will get about a two weeks of advanced notice, but it will begin sometime in December, and it's possible you'll have to pay to cross downtown before the east end.
"The reason is we have to not only have everything in place installation-wise, but we have to test under live traffic, and we are currently doing that testing," Peterson said.
The story of these bridges has been a long one, but the final chapter will be written soon.
"Whether it's going to be hassle free, we'll have to wait and see on that," Spaulding said.
Walsh Construction is looking at about a $1 million from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for finishing early.
Crews will be working through the spring, doing finish touches like painting. The public is invited to a free bridge completion event next Friday at 3 p.m. at Waterfront Park.
Here are the following lanes and roadways expected to open within the next week:
Lincoln Bridge – Will fully open to six lanes of northbound traffic.
I-65 North and South – Lane restrictions will end north of the Lincoln and Kennedy bridges in Southern Indiana
I-65 North Express Lane – A second I-65 North express lane is expected to open in Downtown Louisville, approaching the Lincoln Bridge
I-64 West – A third lane of I-64 West will open approaching Downtown Louisville, which should improve traffic flow on both I-64 West and I-71 South
6th Street in Jeffersonville – Will reopen to traffic
New Ramps to I-65 – New ramps from 6th Street to I-65 South and I-65 North will open in Jeffersonville
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