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January 20, 2013

East-end bridge plans change, move forward

There’s a new design, and potential delays

(Continued)

CONSTRUCTION PLANS

As crews prepare the approaches to the east-end bridge for construction, they will need to take extra precautions due to wildlife discovered on the Kentucky side of the river.

Design plans for the Kentucky approach to the bridge show that part of one bridge support or pier is within the 660-foot area where eagles nest, Wingfield said.

“It only encroaches into the right-of-way by 60 feet,” he said. “It’s not a significant portion of the work zone.”

No work will occur near the nest until August, before nesting season begins.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife permits include five pages of mandatory conditions that apply to activities within 660 feet of the eagles’ nests. Those include a ban on slamming pickup truck tailgates, loud radios, shouting and singing. The permit also limits tree removal and requires that bridge lighting not directly shine on the nest, according to the report.

“We are going to work within the guidelines of the permit,” Wingfield said.

He explained that there is a two-week period in which the work can occur, between the eagles’ nesting period and when gray bats inhabit the area, which is in late August.

The nest in question is located in a backyard tree on private property near the Ohio River in northeast Louisville, according to an Associated Press report. The eagles that use the nest are believed to be the second active breeding pair recorded in Louisville.

GROUND MOVED

The groundbreaking on the east-end bridge has already occurred with construction continuing on a 3,000-foot extension of Old Salem Road, which began in late August. The road will provide improved access to the River Ridge Commerce Center and the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville.

Gohmann Asphalt is pouring concrete, driving steel pilings and placing fill for a 170-foot overpass at the first exit on the Indiana side of the East End Bridge, according to INDOT. Contractors are also excavating and blasting to install new drainage pipes.

Work on the bridge itself and its approaches is expected to begin this summer. A second and final notice to proceed will be issued to WVB East End Partners following “financial close” on the financial terms of the procurement, which is anticipated near the end of March, Wingfield said.

The east-end bridge is expected to be opened to traffic by the end of October 2016.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has also issued its notice to proceed to Walsh Construction Co., leader of a “design-build” team for a new Interstate 65 bridge connecting the downtowns of Louisville and Jeffersonville. Walsh will complete design work on the new bridge, interstate connections and geotechnical drilling, and develop staging areas for materials and equipment in the coming weeks, according to a press release.

The plan presented is expected to cut construction costs by more than $90 million have the downtown construction completed by December 2016.

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