Phased reopening of Kennedy Bridge to begin Friday, complete bef - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Phased reopening of Kennedy Bridge to begin Friday, complete before Christmas

The Kennedy Bridge (Source: WAVE 3 News) The Kennedy Bridge (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Few makeovers could be more extreme.

More than 1,750 tons - 3.5 million pounds of steel will be replaced. One half-mile of concrete roadway - eight inches thick - will be crushed, carted away and repoured.

"As Transportation Secretaries go, it doesn't getting better than this," Greg Thomas, the current job-holder in Kentucky, told reporters gathered on the Kennedy Bridge Thursday afternoon. "The wait is almost over."

Weather permitting, it ends Friday. One lane will reopen to carry traffic from Stansifer Avenue, 10th Street and Court Avenue. All other Interstate 65 Southbound traffic will continue to cross on the new Lincoln Bridge, at least until Monday, Oct. 10.

"We're gonna restore access to some key ramps, and that is I-64 and I-71," Thomas said.

Two lanes will be through-traffic on I-65. The far right, or western-most lane will be an off-ramp to access I-64 Eastbound toward Lexington, westbound to New Albany and St. Louis, and I-71 Northbound to Oldham County and Cincinnati. Since that ramp closed, drivers have had to exit I-65 Southbound at Jefferson Street and pick up access to other interstates via I-65 Northbound.

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Come December, both bridges are expected to be open fully; the Lincoln carrying strictly Northbound traffic into Indiana, the Kennedy, Southbound into Kentucky.

"And we're close to finishing the East End Bridge," Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb said. "It is on-time, on-target and on-budget."

Holcomb, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin both characterized the $2 billion-plus Ohio River Bridges Project as a boon to business and economic insurance for the next two generations. The renovations are designed to keep the Kennedy Bridge in operation for another 35 years.

"Even though taxes are lower on that side of the river," Bevin said. "Even though their economic house is a little more in order than ours is, he's promised not to suck all the jobs out of Kentucky just yet."

The East End Bridge is expected to ease much of the congestion downtown by diverting much of the truck through-traffic.

Neither state's executive, nor Secretary Thomas, would set a firm date for tolls to begin.

"I'd just tell you, get your transponders now," Thomas said.

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