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Downtown Crossing workers reach new heights: First tower for new bridge is complete

With the towers topping out, the focus will shift to building out the new bridge with crews with Walsh Construction continuing to set structural steel and install stay cables. The deck for the new bridge is expected to be poured late 2015.
The first of three towers supporting the new cable-stayed bridge for the Ohio River Bridges Project Downtown Crossing is complete. Tower Five, the tower closest to the Indiana shore, has reached its finished height of 230 feet. (OHIO RIVER BRIDGES PROJECT)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS)--The Ohio River Bridges Project has reached a new milestone. The first of three towers supporting the new cable-stayed bridge has reached its finished height.

Construction is already three months ahead of schedule, with traffic scheduled to cross the new bridge by next January.

Monday, the project's manager revealed the closest tower to the Indiana shore, tower 5, reached its peak at 230 feet.

"As these towers start topping out, the cables start going in and you'll see the bridge really take shape," Andy Barber, the Ohio River Bridge's Project Manager said.

Video taken by a Go Pro shows a unique view of the work happening on both sides of the river, a job that first began in July of 2013.

"It's been a dream for a long, long time. I remember being a kid coming here for Thunder Over Louisville, being on the Kentucky shore seeing the Colgate clock light up and the fireworks, thinking, man it would be great to build a bridge like the Kennedy and here we are," Jeremiah Littleton, a KYTC engineer said.

When complete, the new bridge will stand just feet from the Kennedy. The tallest of the towers will rise 280 feet above the water.

"It's very windy and dangerous, with the potential of falling everywhere you go," Carl Waters, a carpenter with Walsh Construction said.

Waters comes from a long family history of carpenters. He's worked as high as 480 feet in the air and says the key is to look forward, rather than down.

"It'll actually mess with you a little bit, make you get off balance, if you look down at the river and the tower moves a little bit. It'll make you dizzy," Waters said.

As the other towers near completion, the focus will shift to building out the new bridge, pouring the deck and installing the stay cables.

"We've got all kinds of great technology on this project so that we can monitor the sensors on the cables, so we can see whether barge impacts, earthquakes and high water events, anything that could possibly go wrong, we could check without impacting traffic," Littleton said.

Managers say being ahead of schedule on this project will allow for more extensive improvements to the Kennedy Bridge.

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