The East End Crossing opened to traffic Sunday, December 18, following an earlier opening ceremony, marking completion of the $2.3 billion Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges project.
Indiana Lt. Governor and Governor-elect Eric Holcomb announced the newly named Lewis and Clark Bridge by executive order of Vice President-elect Governor Mike Pence at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Indiana approach of the new bridge.
Following the ribbon cutting, Holcomb and other speakers were loaded into two Ford vehicles built at the nearby Kentucky Truck Plant in East Louisville to ceremonially cross the bridge for the first time. Project officials followed state leaders in Transit Authority of River City buses.
The long-anticipated 8 ½ miles of new roadway connects the eastern edge of suburban Louisville and an area just east of Jeffersonville, Ind. with its centerpiece 2,500-foot cable-stay bridge reaching across the Ohio River.
Holcomb said Indiana’s innovative public-private partnership helped take the East End Crossing from wish to reality.
“After decades of discussion and stalled progress, many people thought we’d never see this moment,” Holcomb said. “Now, communities on both sides of the Ohio River will reap the benefit of improved, safe interstate access.”
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin applauded the accomplishment and the joint effort needed to make it happen.
“This crowning achievement, forty years in the making, just goes to show what we can accomplish when we work together towards a common goal,” Bevin said. “Without our partners, including the state of Indiana, Walsh Construction, WVB East End Partners and an outstanding labor force, among others, the completion of this project would not have been possible. We are grateful for all who came together as an enthusiastic community to improve economic opportunity and improve mobility for everyone traveling through this region.”
Rob Morphonios, WVB East End Partners project director, said the project team attracted hundreds of locals and those from other parts of the country and the world, himself included.
“Everyone brought certain skills or areas of expertise and worked together and look at what they’ve done,” Morphonios said. “The success here shows what can be achieved when you have a lot of different people, with different backgrounds, and different ideas and skills to offer. When they all work together, they can accomplish amazing things.”
Matt Walsh, chairman of the Walsh Group, credited the strength of cooperation between the state of Indiana and the construction group.
“The success of this project is the result of a shared vision from state officials, community members, and the hundreds of men and women who have worked so safely and tirelessly over the past three years,” Walsh said. “This project serves as a model for what can be accomplished in the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure.”
More than 3.3 million man-hours on this project were elapsed by Walsh Vinci Construction over the project’s three year construction.
"Southern Indiana and the Louisville area has needed this new bridge for years," said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator David Kim. "By reducing congestion, the East End Crossing and its massive partner downtown will improve traffic safety, reduce traffic congestion and dramatically increase the region’s role in the nation’s freight economy."
The 500 vehicles making up the public caravan followed state and community leaders and the KILROY chapter of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association. These participants signed up online last week to be part of the first to drive the new road. These spots were filled in less than three minutes. Drivers arrived at a closed-off section of the newly completed Indiana 265 to be escorted by police southbound on Indiana 265 toward the Lewis and Clark Bridge.
Participants in the police-escorted caravan received antique silver commemorative medallions with an etching of the new Lewis and Clark Bridge. The medallions act as the second in a “matching set” created for the Ohio River Bridges project. The first of the commemorative set was created for the December 2015 opening of the Lincoln Bridge, a six-lane bridge carrying I-65 northbound traffic across the river from downtown Louisville to Jeffersonville.
Tolling is scheduled to begin on the new and improved I-65 Lincoln Bridge, Kennedy Bridge and the Lewis and Clark Bridge on December 30.
The East End Crossing is now opened.
What Work is Left?
The opening of the East End Crossing is a major milestone for the project but work will continue through spring. Punch list items, such as grading and landscaping remain until final acceptance by the Indiana Finance Authority and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Short term lane closures may be possible as crews put the finishing touches on the East End Crossing.
About the Project
Substantial completion of the East End Crossing will provide several significant benefits to the Louisville and Southern Indiana area – including convenient access for residents commuting between eastern Jefferson County and Southern Indiana. And for travelers passing through the Louisville area from the north or the south, the East End Crossing will be an alternate – and very accessible – route that bypasses the urban traffic of downtown Louisville.
The Kentucky approach to the new bridge extends Kentucky 841 (the Gene Snyder Freeway) from its previous termination at U.S. 42, adding a new four-lane (two northbound, two southbound) 1.4-mile section. This section includes a pair of 1,700-foot tunnels that carry Kentucky 841 traffic beneath U.S. 42 and the historic Drumanard estate. The Indiana approach, also four lanes, extends Indiana 265 (the Lee Hamilton Highway) four miles to the Ohio River from its previous termination at Indiana 62.
The bridge features two diamond towers rising 300 feet above the river, with 104 stay cables. It also includes a shared-use path over the Ohio River for pedestrians and bicyclists accessed from Old Salem Road in Indiana.
Construction of the East End Crossing commenced in June 2013. The East End Crossing is part of the $2.3 billion Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project, which also includes the construction of the Lincoln Bridge. A study commissioned by the Indiana Finance Authority estimated the project will support 15,000 new jobs over the next 30 years and generate an additional $87 billion for the regional economy.
The Indiana Finance Authority and Indiana Department of Transportation contracted the design, construction, financing, operations and maintenance of the East End Crossing through an innovative public-private partnership with WVB East End Partners.