ROADS/BRIDGES: Ohio River Bridges Project to open months early

New I-65 span will allow ramped up rehab on aging Kennedy Memorial Bridge

January 26, 2015

At a news conference held at Louisville’s Waterfront Park, Ky. Governor Steve Beshear announced that construction of the new I-65 bridge that will link Louisville with Jeffersonville, Ind., will be traffic-ready by January 2016, more than three months ahead of initial estimates.

"Just a year from today, three months ahead of schedule, the mighty towers of concrete and steel that you see rising behind me will be complete. The cables will be strung, the deck laid, the stripes painted, and cars and trucks will be flowing across the first new bridge in more than half a century over the Ohio River into downtown Louisville," Beshear said.

The $2.3 million Ohio River Bridges Project has an overall completion date of December 2016, which has not changed, but, said Beshear, early completion of the I-65 span will enable crews to push forward sooner and further with planned $22 million in improvement work on the ailing Kennedy Memorial Bridge. Inpsectors had initially determined that a deck replacement was required, but further analysis made clear that several of the stringers—the steel beams that traverse the entire bridge span beneath the deck—were likewise in need of replacement.

With I-65 acceleration now in the offing, funds can now be repurposed toward the Kenedy rehab, a fact attractive to Beshear, who was able to declare that no new tax money or toll rate increases would be needed to compensate for the more invasive rehab work needing to be done. "What we're investing in here on the banks of the Ohio River is much more than a transportation project," Beshear said. "It's a transformation project."

The new I-65 Bridge will also be also to take on all northbound and southbound diverted traffic off the Kennedy in January, which is expected to alleviate the previously anticipated headaches of re-routing. Nearly 28,000 drivers use I-65 South to access I-64 and I-71 on a daily basis, about 12% of the nearly 225,000 vehicles that travel across the Ohio River between Louisville and southern Indiana each day. When the project is complete, all northbound I-65 traffic will use the new downtown bridge and all southbound I-65 drivers will use the Kennedy.