Ohio River Bridges Project to start next year, completion in six years


by Claudia Coffey


Posted on December 30, 2011 at 12:58 AM

Updated Friday, Dec 30 at 1:02 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Louisville's most talked about project could finally begin next year. Thursday, Kentucky and Indiana reached an agreement to fund the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Even though they cut the cost, tolls would be a key part of financing it. This essentially divides up the bridges funding.  Indiana would finance the new East End Bridge and Kentucky would finance the Kennedy Bridge. It is an innovative approach that would save $1.5 billion.

It took a year to develop a new plan to finally move forward the Ohio River Bridges project, putting the much delayed transportation dream back on track. But some commuters are cautiously optimistic.

"Something will come up and it won't happen. It will fall through. They'll lose the money somehow," said one commuter.

Mayor Greg Fischer and Congressman John Yarmuth announced the deal to get it done on an accelerated timeline.

"This is a big update. It's not the final big announcement but the agreement in principle took a long time to get here because of the good work of the bridges authority and all the work of officials on both sides and the governors coming together to figure out how we are going to get things done," says Mayor Greg Fischer

The goal is start work next year at a cost of $1.3 billion. Compared to the plan a year ago and it is cut by half. Last year the plan was budgeted at $2.6 billion and completion targeted in 12 years. Now it is set to be finished in six years. The key is dividing up the project between Kentucky and Indiana.

"Under the plan, each state is going to take the lead in financing and overseeing construction of approximately one half of this massive construction project," says Fischer. 

Kentucky would be responsible for financing and construction of the new I-65 bridge and the Spaghetti Junction. Indiana will pay for the East End portion of the project. The less expensive cost also makes it more appealing to contractors.

"It increases competition which we think will reduce cost with this two procurement approach. Simply put there are more companies that are able to compete and bid on a $1.3 billion project than a very large $2.6 billion project," says Fischer.