A Historic New Link Between Indiana and Kentucky
After decades of debate and planning, the Louisville-Southern Indiana Bridges Project was completed in 2016. The project included:
- Building the Abraham Lincoln Bridge
- Improving the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge
- Building the new Lewis and Clark Bridge
- Rebuilding “Spaghetti Junction,” where three interstates come together in downtown Louisville
These improvements more than doubled cross-river traffic capacity, eliminated traffic weaves and tight merges and completed a long-awaited connection between east Louisville and Southern Indiana.
A long-range regional transportation plan says that an Ohio River crossing about 8 miles east of downtown Louisville is “an extremely important addition to the freeway system.” The crossing would connect an extension of I–265 in Clark County, Indiana with the then–proposed I-265/KY 841 in Jefferson County, Kentucky.
In addition to continuing to recommend a new east end Ohio River crossing, a long-range transportation plan recommends improvements to the Kennedy Bridge intersection (known locally as “Spaghetti Junction”) to alleviate congestion and safety problems.
A regional transportation planning committee unanimously endorses a strategy that includes reconstructing Spaghetti Junction and building the east end bridge, as well as building a new Ohio River bridge parallel to the I-65 Kennedy Bridge between downtown Louisville and Jeffersonville, Indiana.
The governors of Kentucky and Indiana announce plans to move forward with the Spaghetti Junction reconstruction, east end crossing and downtown crossing.
The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority is established. The Authority’s mission is to finance, construct and oversee the project.
The governors of Indiana and Kentucky sign a Memorandum of Understanding outlining each state’s terms and responsibilities for the project. In a separate meeting, the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority and the Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority approve a financing plan that includes tolling for both bridge crossings. The Federal Highway Administration approves the financing, management and tolling plans for the project.
The Kentucky-Indiana Tolling Body approves initial toll rates for both crossings. Kentucky closes on the toll revenue bonds needed to complete project financing. Construction begins on the Downtown Crossing and East End Crossing.
As construction comes to a close, the Downtown Crossing is officially named after the U.S. President who once called both Indiana and Kentucky home: Abraham Lincoln. In December, an estimated 50,000 people attend the Walk the Bridge celebration to mark the completion of the Lincoln Bridge before it opens to traffic.
Northbound and southbound I-65 traffic shifts to Lincoln Bridge so crews can complete the work needed to improve the 52-year-old Kennedy Bridge and reconfigure ramps near the Downtown Crossing. When that work is complete, all southbound traffic is shifted to the Kennedy Bridge while northbound traffic stays on the Lincoln Bridge. The East End Crossing opens in December and is officially named the Lewis and Clark Bridge. With work complete, RiverLink tolling begins on Friday, December 30.
For more historical information about the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project, visit the Indiana Department of Transportation website.