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December 2, 2013

COMING INTO ALIGNMENT:Visual elements of the bridges project taking shape

LOUISVILLE — Heading into its first winter construction season, the Ohio River Bridges Project is showing visual signs of progress.

Pier structures are starting to appear above the water in the Ohio River — which will eventually hold up the new northbound span of Interstate 65 — and southbound, piers are in place for new lanes and exit ramps heading into downtown Louisville from Jeffersonville.

Project planners showed off the new alignment for the southbound portion of I-65 in Kentucky, also known as phase one of the project.

Walsh Construction Project Manager Max Rowland said during the last 2 1/2 months, crews have made quite a bit of progress building the project substructure.

The work includes eight piers for new southbound lanes of I-65 and a new exit ramp for Jefferson Street in Louisville, to run alongside Louisville Slugger Field.

Rowland explained that when the exit ramp officially opens — which is not expected until 2016— drivers will have to get on the lane farther back in the roadway, part of the design to help eliminate some of the weaves that exist through Spaghetti Junction.

As crews wrap up the substructure of the southbound I-65 lanes, the next step in the process will be setting of beams between the piers. Rowland said some of the beams will be set by Christmas and the remainder will go in place during January.

“Our goal is to have phase one, these structures completed, have the decks poured and ready to switch traffic by the middle of next year,” he added.

Following phase one’s completion, Walsh will begin construction on the middle lanes of I-65, or phase two of the project. That portion is also expected to take about a year to complete. The final phase will be the eastern portion of the I-65 corridor, before the project is completed and all lanes are open to traffic.

“We’ll repeat the same process, basically each year until we work our way across and get all three of the phases done,” Rowland said “All of this has to be timed so that we coincide with the finishing of the river crossing which is still slated to be done in April 2016.”

With the visual elements of the project taking shape, Rowland said motorists in the area will soon see, and experience, a host of traffic changes.

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