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March 13, 2014

NARROWING LANES, BROADENING SCOPE: Project officials discuss impact of work on new downtown bridge

JEFFERSONVILLE — Traffic in Louisville and Southern Indiana will begin to feel the squeeze as a result of work on the downtown crossing component of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Officials with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Walsh Construction held a press conference Thursday at Walsh’s field office in Jeffersonville to discuss the progress that will be made on the downtown crossing through the end of 2014 and how that progress will affect local motorists.

“We’re going to see probably the biggest construction season that Louisville has seen since the interchange was built about 50 years ago,” said Andy Barber, assistant state highway engineer and project manager with KTC.

In Indiana, traffic will be affected on both the Kennedy and Clark Memorial bridges, in downtown Jeffersonville and along Interstate 65. The Indiana approach to the Clark Memorial Bridge has already been reduced to one lane in each direction, and Walsh spokesman Max Rowland said that May 27 is the target date for closing the bridge completely for six weeks.

When the Clark Memorial Bridge reopens, a new exit to Court Avenue in Jeffersonville will be opened, but access to U.S. 31 and I-65 will be closed, Rowland said, because a new flyover ramp that will span the highway will be under construction.

Instead, motorists who wish to access I-65 north from the Clark Memorial Bridge will be detoured east on Court Avenue, then north up Spring Street and west on 10th Street.

And users of I-65 in either direction near the Kennedy Bridge will want to note that in late July, the highway will be reduced to two lanes in either direction when the traffic from northbound I-65 is rerouted to the southbound side to accommodate construction work. The lane restrictions will remain in place until mid-2015.

Though traffic will be slow at peak travel times, construction will not call for a complete closure on the bridge, Barber said.

“Traffic will move along the interstate at all times,” Barber said.

Those who use the 10th Street Exit off I-65 North will also want to note that once a new exit is constructed in late June, drivers will need to exit closer to the Kennedy Bridge. The exit will be close to where Exit 0 is located, which will remain open.

But the inconveniences won’t come without evidence of progress. The towers that will hold up the bridge are under construction, and the tower closest to the shore, dubbed Tower 5, will reach its full 230 feet in height by the end of the year, with significant progress also to be made on the towers closer to the Kentucky shore of the Ohio River. Additionally, cables that hold up the structural steel and a portion of the deck will be completed on Tower 5.

To learn more about the Downtown Crossing project, check out our Bridges Project link at our homepage — newsandtribune.com

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