Southbound Interstate 65 traffic is expected to resume on the Kennedy Bridge on Oct. 10 following extensive improvements to the 52-year-old structure, as the Ohio River Bridges Project nears its expected completion by the end of this year.
The Kennedy Bridge had fully closed in January for the improvements to be made, with the new adjacent Lincoln Bridge handling the two-way I-65 traffic. The old deck and steel of the bridge was demolished and removed, with a new floor system installed on top of existing floor beams, which is expected to add 35 years to its lifespan.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Greg Thomas, Gov. Matt Bevin and Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb held a press conference on the bridge Thursday afternoon to announce the upcoming reopening of the bridge, which Thomas said is “as good as it gets” for someone in his position.
“The debate started decades ago, we came together, we worked together, and we’re just a few short months from completing the work on the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project,” said Thomas. “It’s a huge benefit to the region and a huge benefit to our drivers.”
Thomas said three southbound lanes on the Kennedy Bridge will open at 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 10, with the right lane connecting with ramps to I-64 and I-71. He said that by early December, all six lanes going south on the Kennedy and all six lanes going north on the Lincoln will be open, which is also when tolling on each bridge is set to begin.
“We’re on track for sometime in December,” said Thomas. “It’s a new system, so I guess my message to folks out there is to get your transponder, get your account, because we’ll be doing our final testing in November.”
Bevin said the reopening of the Kennedy Bridge is good news for businesses and commuters who have waited for many years for the bridges to be completed. When introducing fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Holcomb, Bevin mentioned that he currently is running for governor in Indiana and expected him to win, joking that despite Indiana’s lower taxes that “he’s promised not to suck all the jobs out of Kentucky just yet. My job is to make sure that we don’t make it easy for people to want to do that.”
Holcomb said the East End bridge — which is being constructed by Indiana’s transportation department — is still on schedule to be completed by the end of this year, along with the entire Ohio River Bridges Project that has been a decade in the making.
“We’re in the fourth quarter, and pretty soon we’re going to be using the East End bridge as well,” said Holcomb. “It’s on time, it’s on budget, and it’s not just going to be good for business. It’s going to be good for families. It’s going to be good to usher in opportunity for another generation to come.”