It wasn’t just officials that were turning over dirt during the groundbreaking portion of the ceremony. Children from the community joined the officials under a canopy, where they used commemorative plastic shovels on a pile of sand to provide the symbolic start to the downtown bridge project.
“This is about the future,” said Victor Mendez, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. “It’s about the generations yet to come.”
The Belle of Louisville served as a backdrop to the scene of the groundbreaking ceremony. At the conclusion of the officials’ remarks, the Belle sounded its whistle and played calliope music.
The downtown bridge will stand adjacent to the Kennedy Bridge, which currently accommodates both northbound and southbound traffic along Interstate 65. When the downtown bridge is open, the two bridges will combine to provide 12 lanes of interstate traffic, Beshear said.
“Normally when you see a sign that says ‘under construction,’ you know what’s ahead — detours, delays and road blocks that kill your momentum,” said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). “But this ‘under construction’ sign is different, because if you lived in Kentuckiana for the last three or four decades, you’ve seen the detours, delays and road blocks that stalled this project’s momentum. Today is a sign that all of that is behind us.”
The Ohio River Bridges Project, which also includes the construction of a new east-end bridge to complete the I-265 loop and the realignment of Spaghetti Junction, is scheduled to be completed in December 2016.