LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The face of downtown Louisville will be changing soon. Officials with the Ohio River Bridges Project said on Wednesday that construction on the new downtown bridge is expected to get underway July 1.
Pre-construction work, including surveys, test borings, building and signage removal and safety zone fencing installation, is already underway. The new bridge, which will run parallel and east of the current John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge connecting Louisville, KY and Jeffersonville, IN, is scheduled to open three years from this month – eight months before the entire project is due for completion in December 2016.
The new downtown bridge initially will carry both northbound and southbound traffic when it opens in April 2016 while Walsh DBT constructs a new deck on the Kennedy Bridge. When all work is complete on the Downtown Crossing, the new bridge will carry six lanes of northbound I-65 traffic and the Kennedy Bridge will be renovated to carry six lanes of southbound I-65 traffic.
The project also calls for a redesign of "Spaghetti Junction" in Louisville.
"This mega project will be built in three sections simultaneously -- the Kentucky approaches, the Indiana approaches and the bridge over the Ohio -- so that we can complete the project in just three-and-a-half-years," said Walsh DBT Project Manager Arik Quam.
Two lanes of interstate traffic will be open in each direction throughout construction. The only planned ramp closure for 2013 is eastbound I-64 to southbound I-65. This ramp will close on approximately July 1 and remain closed through mid-2016.
The new downtown bridge is scheduled to open in April 2016 –18 months earlier than expected.
"Saves the state some money and saves the drivers time in traffic," said the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Downtown Crossing Project Manager Andy Barber.
Much of Waterfront Park, including the Great Lawn and Big Four Bridge, as well as the terrace lawn in Jeffersonville, will remain open for public use during construction. KYTC officials and the construction team said they will work closely with major event planners whose activities might be affected by construction, including planners for the Kentucky Derby Festival and other festivals, concerts and fundraising events.
The project is part of a larger effort that also includes a new bridge between Utica, IN and Prospect, KY. The states have divided work on the project, with Kentucky overseeing the downtown work and Indiana in charge of the new eastern Jefferson County bridge.
The first Downtown Crossing public open house is set for Wednesday, May 8, 2013 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Mellwood Art Center in Louisville.