LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A public celebration will be held on Saturday, Dec. 5 in advance of the new downtown bridge opening to traffic.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will participate in a ribbon-cutting and the public is invited to "Walk the Bridge."
"Over the coming decades, hundreds of thousands of people and cars will cross the bridge, but we're creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before we open the bridge to traffic," Beshear said. "Before the first car drives across this span, the public will have a chance to walk the new bridge. It's an opportunity to be part of a historic celebration of an extraordinary project."
According to a news release from the Ohio River Bridges Project, the celebration wlil have an open house format. The public will be invited to visit the deck of the new cable-stayed bridge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 5. Selfie stations will be posted across the bridge, giving the public a chance to capture the moment. People will be encouraged to post their pictures to social media using the hashtag #walkthebridge.
The 10,000 visitors will receive keepsake medallions.
Public access to the bridge, by foot and by shuttle, will be from Jeffersonville. Parking will be available at Water Tower Square (300 Missouri Avenue) and Colston Park (301 Mulberry Street). Jeffersonville Police will be assisting with traffic control.
TARC buses and City of Jeffersonville trolleys will provide free shuttle service from Water Tower Square. Court Avenue will be closed to traffic from North Shore Drive to Ohio Avenue to facilitate pedestrian and shuttle transport.
The ramp from I-65 North to Court Avenue will be closed to provide access to the bridge. Shuttles and trolleys will drop passengers at the end of the ramp, with participants walking to the deck of the bridge.
After walking 1,000 feet up the ramp, participants will walk the approach to the bridge (also 1,000 feet) and have the opportunity to walk nearly the length of the bridge (2,100 feet), before returning to the Court Avenue ramp. A complete circuit will total more than 1 1/2 miles.
No pets, bicycles, skateboards or rollerblades will be allowed on the bridge. Limited parking for bikes is available in a number of locations in Jeffersonville.
A date for when the bridge will open to traffic has not been set. I-65 North lanes will shift first, with lanes of I-65 South to follow.
Crews with lead contractor Walsh Construction Co. will then begin $22 million in improvements to the adjacent John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge, adding decades of new life to the 52-year old bridge.
All but one lane of the Kennedy Bridge will close when the new bridge opens to traffic. One lane will remain open for about a month to maintain access to I-64 and I-71 North. The entire Kennedy Bridge will then close for about six months. One lane of the Kennedy will reopen first, restoring access to I-64 East and I-71 North. Access to I-64 West will be restored a short time later. The entire Kennedy Bridge is expected to reopen in late 2016.
The revamped Kennedy Bridge will eventually carry six lanes of I-65 South traffic and the Downtown bridge will carry six lanes of I-65 North traffic.
The entire Downtown Crossing – the new cable-stayed bridge, the improved Kennedy Bridge and interstate connections on both sides of the river – is scheduled to be complete in December 2016.