Big transportation projects don't always show up on a map until many years after their original planners first discuss an idea. But once they do show up, they can make a world of difference for area residents and businesses, interstate commerce, and our nation's economy.
To mark a huge milestone in one such project, last Thursday Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez helped Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear break ground on the East End Crossing Bridge, part of the Ohio River Bridges project.
To put this project in perspective, planning for the Ohio River Bridges began in early 1969, more than 43 years ago. That's before the late Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon that July and before the "Miracle" Mets won the 66th World Series that October.
But last week, the communities of Louisville, KY, and Jeffersonville, IN, finally saw physical evidence of the area's first new bridge in more than 50 years. As the Ohio River Bridges project now moves into its construction phase, thousands of jobs will be created during the next six years, and that's going to be a real shot in the arm for the region.
When completed, the East End Crossing Bridge will offer drivers four lanes with full-width shoulders for added safety. The bridge will also feature a 13-foot-wide shared-use path for bicycles and pedestrians.
It's clear that this new bridge answers President Obama's call for an America built to last. It will put Americans to work, reduce congestion, and increase safety. And it will help move freight and make businesses throughout the Midwest more competitive.
But the East End Crossing is just one of several planned upgrades for the region's roadways as part of the Ohio River Bridges project. Additional improvements include construction of a tunnel connecting to the I-265 Freeway, a new bridge on I-65 over the Ohio River, and reconstruction of the I-64/I-65/I-71 Kennedy Interchange in downtown Louisville.
So area residents and businesses have a lot to look forward to. As Administrator Mendez said, "I think the people of Indiana and Kentucky have waited long enough, but I think when it's all finished, they'll say it was worth the wait."
I couldn't agree more.
You can hear remarks from the two governors and Administrator Mendez below,
courtesy of the Louisville Courier-Journal.