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Bridge Buildup: Kentucky governor affirms plan as Indiana starts first

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 30, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 30 at 5:49 PM

UTICA, In (WHAS11) -- An announced August groundbreaking on the first phase of the East End Bridge will accelerate business prospects at a major industrial park on the Indiana side of the bridge, the River Ridge Executive Director told WHAS11 on Wednesday.

"We've had inquiries from commercial, retail, developers," said Jerry Acy.

Indiana started accepting bids on Wednesday to build one of the roads needed for construction of the east end bridge.

With signs of progress in Indiana, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear told WHAS11 on Wednesday that Kentucky's half of the project, downtown, is on track.

"Things are moving ahead. We will be breaking ground on our whole project either right at the end of this year or the first of next year," Beshear said.  "So, we're right on schedule. Indiana's on schedule. You know, we're not in a race.  This is a joint project and I couldn't be more happy that they are able to start getting some of their stuff done."

"Their stuff" is Indiana's east end half of the two bridge project, which needs miles of new roads, unlike the Kentucky half of the project, the downtown bridge.

"We're going to have to redo Spaghetti Junction and do a lot of work on the approaches too," Beshear explained, "but not quite the same kind of thing that Indiana is going to have to do out on the east end bridge."

The $5.5 million road extension will ultimately connect the River Ridge Commerce Center to State Road 265 and the future East End Bridge. The contract also involves constructing a 3,000-foot extension of Old Salem Road and a 170-foot two-span bridge, which will cross over the proposed SR 265 extension leading to the East End Bridge. The bridge will be designed to accommodate heavy trucks that serve the nearby Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville and the River Ridge Commerce Center.

River Ridge is roughly 6,000 acres of the old Indiana Army Ammunition Plant being converted into commercial use, including a  $150 million, 1000 plus employee Amazon.com facility planned for 2013.

"The potential?  Easy 50,000 jobs," Acy said.

No wonder Indiana's governor wants to get started on the bridge project as soon as possible. 

Acy said these are new jobs and not being drawn from Kentucky.

"We're getting inquiries from international companies, national companies that already have a presence in multiple states," Acy said, adding that other international companies are looking at River Ridge for their first U.S. operations.

"This whole region is going to benefit from these two bridges being built," Beshear said.  "We're going to have plenty of new jobs here.  Indiana will have plenty of new jobs in Southern Indiana.  You know what? That flows back and forth and a lot of those Hoosiers come over here and spend their money after they get off work. So, it's going to be great for all of us."

As for the Kentucky half of the Ohio River Bridges Project, Beshear said he sees no hurdles remaining in the project which has been talked about for decades.

"The last hurdle really was getting our budget passed that had the commitment in it from Kentucky to help fund those bridges," Beshear said. "And we've got that now and so we have picked the three finalists for our big project. 

"They're going to go through sort of big competition this summer working with us and then we will pick the finalist and we are going to hit the ground running," the governor added.
 

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