Gov. Daniels Pledges Help for Bridges Project

By Justin Wilfon

(JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind.) -- Construction is scheduled to start next year on the new Ohio river bridges, and now Indiana is offering significant help. On Wednesday, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels pledged $650 million towards construction. WAVE 3's Justin Wilfon investigates.

On a morning when even the Ohio's old bridges were hard to see because of fog, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels had no problem peering into the future.

He stopped in Clark County Wednesday, pledging $650 million for two new bridges across the Ohio River.

"If we act boldly, and think big and dream big we can have a big economic payoff," Daniels said.

Daniels believes the project, which includes a new bridge for I-65, and a new east end bridge, could lead to substantial economic growth in the southern part of his state.

"We've got a great opportunity in our state to leap forward economically if we can accelerate our investment in these facilities," Daniels said.

The new I-65 bridge will run parallel with the Kennedy bridge downtown. The new east end bridge will connect the Gene Snyder freeway with the Hamilton highway in Indiana.

"Particularly, the east end bridge, I just think opens up an area, or enhances a certain area, that's just absolutely ripe and already beginning to show signs of growth," Daniels said.

The $650 million pledge is part of Daniels' 10-year transportation plan for the entire state.

It must still be approved by the Indiana general assembly.

He believes the bridges will be paid for through traditional funding, although it is possible at least one of the bridges could be a toll road.

"We wouldn't rule it out, but that is not in our proposal at present," Daniels said.

Both Kentucky and the federal government will also pick up large portions of the bridges' estimated $2.4 billion dollar price tag.

Daniels hopes construction will be completed by 2016, although other officials targeted 2020.

"That schedule really isn't set at this point for the whole project," said INDOT director, Tom Sharp. "We're still talking about that."

It's one big detail that is still a little foggy.

Online Reporter: Justin Wilfon

Online Producer: Michael Dever