Last August, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez helped Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and then Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels break ground on the East End Crossing, part of the Ohio River Bridges project. On Tuesday, Administrator Mendez was back in Louisville for the groundbreaking of the second of the two bridges, the Downtown Crossing.
These two bridges are the first to be built in the Greater Louisville area in 50 years. A lot has happened in that half-century, including steady growth in the number of vehicles crossing the Ohio River between Louisville and southern Indiana. In fact, state officials estimate that the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge --the existing downtown crossing-- alone serves more than 121,000 drivers each day.
The new 6-lane crossing will be built alongside the Kennedy Bridge, doubling the number of total travel lanes from 6 to 12. This will boost safety and cut congestion--a big win for the folks on both sides of the river. As Administrator Mendez noted, "The community has needed these bridges for years."
This project is also a win for the tens of thousands of commercial truck drivers who carry our nation's cargo up and down a very busy I-65 --one of America's most important trade corridors-- and through Louisville's Spaghetti Interchange, which knits I-65 together with I-64 and I-71. Reconstructing that critical interchange for improved safety and efficiency is also part of the Downtown Crossing project.
Finally, construction of the Downtown Crossing and its East End counterpart is a win for the many men and women who will be doing the heavy lifting over the next few years, working at good-paying jobs while building two bridges that Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called "physical manifestations of human power and imagination."
President Obama has said that investing in transportation helps spur economic growth and make people's lives better. I'm happy to see that, with this ambitious project, Louisville is playing a key role in that effort.