Spaghetti Junction Makeover Projected To Cost $1.1 Billion - News, Weather & Sports

Spaghetti Junction Makeover Projected To Cost $1.1 Billion

By James Zambroski

(LOUISVILLE) -- The rebuild of the Kennedy Interchange -- commonly called Spaghetti Junction -- took a step forward Thursday when engineers rolled out a design that shows precisely where the new roadway will be built.

Projected to cost $1.1 billion and be completed in 15 years, along with two bridges crossing the Ohio River, the new interstate system into downtown Louisville will eliminate many of the crossover exit and entrance ramps, which have been a safety concern for years.

The new road is also needed because of increased traffic. Junction project manager Glen Kelly said the current road, designed 40 years ago, is about 25 years out of date.

"We have the alignments and grades for the interstate generally established," he said. "That's what we're presenting tonight."

The Ohio River Bridges Project, a consortium of design teams working in tandem on one of the largest municipal construction projects in the country, held an open house at the Louisville Marriott Thursday where plans were laid out for the public.

"I think they'll be a lot of changes. We're just starting this process, so, we shall see what happens," said Jim Hutto, who came to see what might happen to a commercial building he and others want to buy on Mellwood Avenue.

"If this goes through as planned, we would lose that piece of property. So it makes us decide whether we want to buy it or not," he said.

One requirement that adds to the cost and complexity of the junction rebuild is that traffic on the existing highway will be maintained throughout construction.

"All interstate moves will be maintained through construction," Kelly said. "Two lanes in each direction."

Andrew Russman has a contract on a building that he just found out lies in the shadow of a new, planned, interstate ramp.

"We have a lot of information to look at in order for us to move forward," he said after talking to project personnel.

Financing is a joint venture between Kentucky, Indiana and the federal government. A plan should be in place by next spring, officials said.

"The Federal Highway Administration will not allow each state to even start construction until they have a long term plan and a commitment from each state that the project will be completed," said Bart Bryant of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Policy does not require the states and federal government to come up with all the money at once, only that they are committed to funding the entire project.

Bryant said the money is allocated much in the same way as a mortgage. The finance plan requires officials to determine how much money is needed for each year of construction, spreading the entire amount over the life of the project.

"It's like any situation, it's hard to predict the future, but at this point in time, I feel fairly confident in that," Bryant said.

Online Reporter: James Zambroski

Online Producer: Michael Dever

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