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Gov. Beshear, leaders, break ground on Louisville Downtown Bridge
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Tuesday afternoon, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Lieutenant Governor and former Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson, current mayor Greg Fischer, United States House Representative John Yarmuth, and a host of dignitaries kicked off construction of the Louisville Downtown Bridge -- part of the Ohio River Bridges Project alongside the East End bridge -- with a ceremonial groundbreaking at Waterfront Park near the John F. Kennedy Bridge. Gov. Beshear announced to the gathered crowd that after 40 years of talking with no action being taken in the meantime, “the first new bridge at the Falls of the Ohio in 50 years” would finally begin to be built.

“It was 1963 when the bridge behind me opened to traffic,” Gov. Beshear began. “The nation was in shock because of the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy. Just days after that tragic event, then-governor Bert T. Combs announced that the new interstate bridge would be named for the President. For 50 years, this bridge alone has carried the burden of north-south interstate traffic across the Ohio River.

“In just three short years, another bridge will stand at this location. Another giant span of steel and concrete will run alongside the Kennedy bridge, and together they will provide up to 12 lanes of interstate, to carry hundreds of millions more vehicles across this river,” Gov. Beshear continued, also giving attention to the East End bridge that will close the gap between Indiana and Kentucky when completed.

Mayor Fischer kept his remarks brief -- thanking everyone for “keeping the pressure” on elected leaders to help launch the ORB project, as well wishing the workers of Walsh Construction and their subcontractors a safe build -- before calling Gov. Beshear back up to the podium to lead off the countdown to the official start of construction on the crossing, marked by a crane hoisting the flags of the United States, Kentucky and Indiana above the Ohio River. Afterwards, the featured speakers dug into a mound of sand prior to inviting the children in attendance -- plastic toy shovels commemorating the event in hand -- to dig into the two mounds of sand where construction will begin. A few lucky diggers found a commemorative two-sided token honoring the ceremonial groundbreaking.

The new Louisville Downtown Bridge will carry six lanes of traffic toward Indiana, allowing the Kennedy to carry six lanes south to Louisville and Kentucky upon reconfiguration. The project is expected to be completed near the end of 2016 at a cost of $1.3 billion in federal funds while doubling capacity and bringing down time and cost of shipping goods through the city.

For more information on the Louisville Downtown Bridge, you may visit the bridge's Facebook and Twitter. For information regarding the overall project, please visit www.kyinbridges.com.

Photos: Cameron Miquelon/Louisville.com and Facebook/Louisville Downtown Bridge.

Slideshow: 
Ceremonial helmets were placed upon each featured speaker's chair prior to the start of the groundbreaking.
A photo-op with the mayor is never to be missed.
WDRB newsreader Bennent Haeberle interviewing Rep. Yarmuth while the children dig.
More children hoping to find a token of this occasion.
Administrator Mendez collecting a few memories of this day in history.
On the other side of the coin, the Seal of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
This token is in the good hands of Mayor Fischer.
One of the 500 special tokens to be found in the two sand mounds near the podium.
The speakers dig with their ceremonial shovels while WHAS's Joe Arnold looks on.
Mayor Fischer gave a one-minute speech before inviting Gov. Beshear to officially start construction on the downtown bridge.
Rep. Yarmuth gave a brief shout to Ford before handing over the podium to Mayor Fischer.
Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration Victor Mendez spoke of safety while driving in his remarks.
The hands that will help erect the Louisville Downtown Bridge.
Gov. Beshear talked about the history of the Kennedy bridge and the new bridges in his speech.
The featured speakers are seated as Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock leads off.
The future is now.

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Cameron Miquelon's picture

About Cameron Miquelon

Former fashion writer for Louisville.com, now contributing author for automotive industry blog The Truth About Cars. Born in Louisville, returned 29 years later, left for Seattle in 2013.

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