Work begins on $2.6B Ohio River bridges project

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana and Kentucky officials applauded the ceremonial start Thursday of an early phase of a project to build two new Ohio River bridges, signaling that decades of talk soon will become one of the nation's largest active public works endeavors.

Out-of-work union members hoping to join bridge construction crews were part of the crowd watching as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking along the river, near where one of the spans will rise.

"After 43 years of talk, this project is finally a reality," said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore, who was a kindergartener when the so-called East End bridge was added to the area's long-range transportation plan in 1969.

His riverfront community will be among the beneficiaries of the $2.6 billion project that will build two bridges — one in downtown Louisville, one on the east side of the metropolitan area — and upgrade highway interchanges. Construction on both bridges is expected to begin in 2013.

Thursday's ceremony was for a project to extend a road that will be the first exit on the Indiana side when the East End bridge opens in 2017. Area officials hope the project, which will improve access to an industrial park and the Port of Indiana, will unleash more economic development.

Indiana is responsible for the East End bridge between Utica, Ind., and Prospect, Ky., linking the Lee Hamilton Expressway in Indiana and the Gene Snyder Freeway in Kentucky.

Kentucky will oversee work downtown. The downtown bridge, expected to open in 2018, will carry northbound traffic on Interstate 65 and the existing Kennedy Bridge will be used for southbound I-65 traffic. The downtown work will include reconfiguring an often-clogged interchange where three interstates converge.

The work will be paid for with a mix of highway funds and toll revenue.

The governors praised the persistence of both states, and said the partnership was an example of bipartisan cooperation in an era of partisan squabbling.

"There's all this hand-wringing about gridlock and paralysis and drift, and all too much of that is true," said Daniels, a Republican. "So when a big accomplishment happens, particularly that people were doubtful about, I hope it builds confidence, 'OK, if we can do that, we can do a few more things, what's next.' "

Beshear, a Democrat, said the cooperation should be a lesson for Washington.

"If the federal government would adopt that attitude, this country would be a lot better off," he said.

The construction phase will create about 4,000 jobs, Beshear said. And it was the prospect of landing work that drew about two dozen, hard-hat-wearing carpenters' union members to the ceremony. The men are out of work but are qualified to help build the bridges, said Chip White, a business representative with the union.

"It would mean about five years of being able to pay their mortgage payments, put their kids through school and be able to put food on their tables," he said in an interview. "That's exactly what this bridge means to the people here today."


  • Where to Go
    You could go to Uganda - from what I saw about the homeland of the team from Uganda while watching the Little League World Series it appears Uganda does not spend much on their infrastructure...you could escape!
  • No idea
    Good to know you have done your research given Indiana is current one of the most financially healthy states in the union. Way to hit the nail on the head!
  • You do realize Indiana has a $2 billion surplus, right?
  • Pork
    Wow, $2.6 billion down another government rathole while the politicians from 2 bankrupt states pat themselves on the back. Is there anywhere to go to escape this lunacy?

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. President Obama has referred to the ACA as "Obamacare" any number of times; one thing it is not, if you don't qualify for a subsidy, is "affordable".

    2. One important correction, Indiana does not have an ag-gag law, it was soundly defeated, or at least changed. It was stripped of everything to do with undercover pictures and video on farms. There is NO WAY on earth that ag gag laws will survive a constitutional challenge. None. Period. Also, the reason they are trying to keep you out, isn't so we don't show the blatant abuse like slamming pigs heads into the ground, it's show we don't show you the legal stuf... the anal electroctions, the cutting off of genitals without anesthesia, the tail docking, the cutting off of beaks, the baby male chicks getting thrown alive into a grinder, the deplorable conditions, downed animals, animals sitting in their own excrement, the throat slitting, the bolt guns. It is all deplorable behavior that doesn't belong in a civilized society. The meat, dairy and egg industries are running scared right now, which is why they are trying to pass these ridiculous laws. What a losing battle.

    3. Eating there years ago the food was decent, nothing to write home about. Weird thing was Javier tried to pass off the story the way he ended up in Indy was he took a bus he thought was going to Minneapolis. This seems to be the same story from the founder of Acapulco Joe's. Stopped going as I never really did trust him after that or the quality of what being served.

    4. Indianapolis...the city of cricket, chains, crime and call centers!

    5. "In real life, a farmer wants his livestock as happy and health as possible. Such treatment give the best financial return." I have to disagree. What's in the farmer's best interest is to raise as many animals as possible as quickly as possible as cheaply as possible. There is a reason grass-fed beef is more expensive than corn-fed beef: it costs more to raise. Since consumers often want more food for lower prices, the incentive is for farmers to maximize their production while minimizing their costs. Obviously, having very sick or dead animals does not help the farmer, however, so there is a line somewhere. Where that line is drawn is the question.