Atop a bluff in Utica, a path of trees cut down across the Ohio River on the Kentucky shoreline clearly marked the approach for the east-end bridge.
Trees have been cleared on both sides of the Ohio River, along with other preparatory work that has been completed, in order to make way for construction to move forward on a new east-end bridge that will connect Interstate 265 in Indiana to the Kentucky 841.
On Wednesday, a host of local, state and transportation officials gathered on top of what will eventually become the Indiana approach to the east-end bridge to mark the project’s official groundbreaking.
A groundbreaking was also held in August to mark the start of construction on a 3,000-foot extension of Old Salem Road, which will be the first exit on the Indiana side of the Ohio River and connect the new span with the River Ridge Commerce Center and the Port of Indiana in Jeffersonville.
But the ceremony held Wednesday marked the start of construction activities on the east-end bridge and its approaches. Indiana is responsible for completing that portion of the project at a cost of $763 million with WVB East End Partners – Walsh Investors LLC, VINCI Concessions and Bilfinger Project Investments — which was chosen as the contractor. The WVB group will also be responsible for operating and maintaining the crossing through a public-private partnership entered into with the state of Indiana.
With construction of the actual bridge on the horizon, officials spoke about what it will mean for the region.
“The Ohio River Bridges Project is going to help Indiana and Kentucky become an even greater global distribution and logistics powerhouse, and I strongly support this opportunity for our state and for our neighbors to our south,” said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. “The east-end crossing will, I believe, improve Indiana’s economy and spark economic development opportunities for our citizens.”