New downtown bridge to cost nearly $1 billion, open in 2016


by Bryan Baker

Posted on November 16, 2012 at 12:25 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 16 at 12:41 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The biggest contract in Kentucky history goes to Chicago-based firm Walsh Construction if the state formally accepts the proposal in the next 90 days. The bid awarded was for $971,400,000, the largest infrastructure project in U.S. history.

Drivers have been waiting for 40-plus years for the talk of the project to end and construction to begin.
Walsh would build the new downtown crossing part of the Ohio Rivers Bridges Project even though their proposal is $8 million higher than the lowest bid. They expect to finish by Dec. 10, 2016 after about three and a half years of work. Construction is slated to begin late spring or early summer 2013.

The "best value" bid the state awards considered project cost and time of completion, so the Walsh gets the deal by estimating a date 28 days before the lowest bidder.

The downtown bridge is part of a $2.6 billion project, paid for by tolls and taxpayer dollars. It includes a new downtown bridge, a new East End bridge, revamped Spaghetti Junction and repaired Kennedy Bridge, which itself will cost about $1 million.

A Walsh spokesman estimated they would use 5,600 workers and plan to hire locally. They'll lead a team of 10 firms overall, including construction, engineering, and public relations.

Walsh calls itself the largest contractor in Indiana and is also working on the Milton-Madison bridge project for which it was recognized for its innovative design and construction by Popular Science magazine.

OSHA in the state of Indiana fined the firm $10 thousand for not training employees after the death of one of its workers in May who died after becoming trapped between his bucket and a steel beam.

Part of the project construction has already started. A 3,000 foot extension connecting to the future East End Bridge broke ground in August.

The projected East End Bridge completion date is 2017, and the project will be bid in Indiana Friday.