LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Motorists are going to be seeing much less orange and more open interstate lanes as the Downtown Crossing portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project is complete.
City and state leaders from both sides of the river made it a point to join the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Walsh Construction as they marked a milestone - a billion-dollar project that's on budget and ahead of schedule - Friday.
"On behalf of every driver who has been stuck in Spaghetti Junction or who inadvertently found themselves in Indiana, hallelujah!" Kentucky's Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton said.
For nearly three-and-a-half years, construction has been nonstop, but now the Downtown Crossing portion has made it to the finish line. Crews built a new six-lane Lincoln Bride, drastically updated the Kennedy Bridge and improved interstate connections in Kentucky and Indiana.
"This is our future right here, this is our next 50 to 60 years," Jeffersonville, Ind. Mayor Mike Moore said.
At its peak, more than 800 people made the project possible.
"I want to thank the carpenters, the electricians, the iron workers, the laborers, equipment operators, painters, truck drivers," Louisville's Mayor Greg Fischer said.
They've built 60 ramps and overpasses and nearly 50 miles of new roadway.
"Now all these men and women can tell their children and grandchildren about what they built and be proud of it," Walsh Construction Project Manager Nick Faul said.
It's a project that was once set to cost more than $4 billion. City and state leaders worked with both state transportation departments to cut the price and timeline in half.
"We have all talked to, and I've certainly talked to residents who for years and years, decades in fact, who never thought it could be done and we've just proven once again that this is no longer talk, this is no longer the art of the possible, this is reality," Indiana Governor-elect Eric Holcomb said.
While tolls will be a reality by the end of the year, motorists can expect at least a couple weeks to soak up the free rides.
"We've made it easier and safer to cross the Ohio River," KYTC Project Manager Andy Barber said. "We have set the stage for economic growth, better lives and a stronger community."
The other half of this massive project, the new East End Bridge is expected to open to traffic in a few weeks.