The Abraham Lincoln Bridge carries Interstate 65 northbound over the Ohio River between Louisville, Kentucky and New Albany, Indiana. It is named after U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who was born in Kentucky and grew up in Southern Indiana
The Ohio River Bridges Project, a multi-state project to relieve traffic congestion in the Louisville region, involved the construction of the Abraham Lincoln Bridge for six lanes of northbound Interstate 65 traffic, the renovation of the adjoining Kennedy Memorial Bridge for six lanes of southbound Interstate 65 traffic, the construction of the Lewis and Clark Bridge and Drumanard Tunnel for Interstate 265, and the rebuilding of the Interstate 64, 65, and 71 (Kennedy) interchange in Louisville.
Plans for the Ohio River Bridges Project came about in July 2002 when the governors of Kentucky and Indiana held a joint press conference announcing the initiation of the $22.1 million Ohio River Bridges Study. 6 It concluded that to relieve traffic congestion along Interstates 64, 65, and 71, the eastern bypass of the metropolitan area along Interstate 265 must be completed and that a second Interstate 65 bridge be considered. The Federal Highway Administration came to the same conclusion in 2003. 14 15 The Louisville-Southern Indiana Bridge Authority (LSIBA), a 14-member commission that was tasked with developing a financial plan and establishing funding mechanisms for construction, was formed in October 2009. 13 The Ohio River Bridges Project was formally announced as a partnership between the two states in July 2012. 6
A Structured Public Involvement (SPI), developed by Drs. K. Bailey and T. Grossardt, was used to elicit public preferences for the design of the second Ohio River crossing for Interstate 65. 7 The final design alternatives announced in July 2006 included a three-span arch, a cable-stayed design with three towers, and a cable-stayed design with a single A-shaped tower. 8 The three-tower design was ultimately chosen.
In 2006, the Kentucky General Assembly allocated $789 million for the Ohio River Bridges Project over the next six years. 16 But it was projected that the $3.9 billion Project would consume 18.5% of Kentucky’s discretionary highway money over 24 years if it was built without an alternate funding plan. 18 David Williams, Kentucky’s Senate president, pre-filed a bill that would allow local authorities to consider tolls and other funding sources. Tolling would remove as much as 16 years from the construction schedule and had the support from the Build the Bridges Coalition and other local leaders. 17
The financial plan for the Project was modified in October 2007 as the project cost had escalated to $4.1 billion. 17 The plan recommended that Kentucky’s share of the project cost ($2.9 billion) be covered through gasoline taxes and tolls and that Indiana’s share of the project cost ($1.1 billion) be covered through proceeds from the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road. Both transportation departments signed off on the proposal. Approximately $185 million was appropriated for the Project in Kentucky’s two-year budget in 2007.
In 2009, the Kentucky House voted 86-10 and the Senate 35-0 in favor of a bill that would develop a Kentucky and Indiana authority to develop a financing approach for the project. 19 On December 18, Kentucky Governor Beshear announced the sale of $100 million in bonds towards the Ohio River Bridges Project. 21 22 Of that, $40 million was set aside to acquire right-of-way for the Interstate 65 bridge construction, or about a third of what was required.
Two agencies, the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority (LSIBA), and the Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority, voted unanimously to endorse a July 2010 plan to use high-speed, electronic tolling methods to raise $2.2 billion of the project’s cost. 23 The other half of the cost would come from conventional funding, such as fuel taxes. Initial toll rates would be set at $1 per crossing for passenger vehicles and up to $12 per crossing for semi-trucks, with the rates increasing 2.5% annually or pegged to the national inflation rate, whichever is greater. 27 Tolls would be collected over the next 40 years. 20
In an attempt to shave project costs, it was decided in 2011 to rebuild the Kennedy Interchange in its current location instead of shifting its location south into the Butchertown neighborhood; reducing the number of lanes on the East End Bridge to four, and shifting the pedestrian and bike path on the Interstate 65 bridge to the adjacent Big Four Bridge. 28 29
The Commonwealth of Kentucky approved the sale of $753 million in bonds to finance the Project in November, which included $424 million in tax-exempt bond-anticipation notes, $301 million in toll revenue bonds, and $28 million in taxable bond-anticipation notes. 30 31 Shortly after, the state was approved for a low-interest, long-term $452.2 million federal highway loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Innovation & Financing Act which saved the state approximately $100 million on financing for the Interstate 65 bridge. 30 32 The Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority approved of the state joining the EZ-Pass consortium in July 2015. 11 Motorists would have the choice of being tolled by an EZ-Pass transponder, decal, or by a pay-by-mail system.
An updated Financial Plan released in 2016 pegged the estimated cost of the Project at $2.327 billion: 13
- Kennedy interchange in Kentucky: $600.3 million
- Interstate 65 Bridge: $339.3 million
- Indiana approach to the Interstate 65 Bridge: $196.1 million
- Other costs in Kentucky: $138.5 million
- Total costs for the Interstate 65 Bridge: $1,274.2 million
- Kentucky approach to the Interstate 265 Bridge: $486.1 million
- Interstate 265 Bridge: $242.4 million
- Indiana approach to the Interstate 265 Bridge: $228 million
- Other costs in Indiana: 96.3 million
- Total costs for the Interstate 265 Bridge: $1,052.8 million
The ground was broken on the new Interstate 65 bridge on June 18, 2013, with construction beginning in July. 34 By August, foundation work began with steel casings installed into the underlying bedrock. Work began on the Indiana approach in February 2014, and the first structural steel was installed in October. The first stay cables were installed in December and the first of the three towers supporting the new bridge was completed in April 2015. The bridge deck began to be poured in May, and all three towers were completed by July. By October, the approaches were completed.
The new Interstate 65 bridge opened for Interstate 65 northbound traffic on December 6, 2015. 2 It opened with southbound traffic later in the month while the Kennedy Bridge was rebuilt. 9 The Lincoln Bridge opened to northbound traffic only on October 10, 2016, 2 while the Kennedy Bridge opened for southbound traffic on November 14. 10 A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Interstate 65 bridge, dedicated for President Abraham Lincoln, was held on December 5, 1 and tolling began on December 30. 4 5
The American Society of Highway Engineers named the Lincoln Bridge as the 2017 National Project of the Year. 33 The award was presented to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Jacobs Engineering Group, and Walsh Construction.
- State: Indiana, Kentucky
- Route: Interstate 65
- Type: Cable-Stay Suspension
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 2,100 feet
- Main Span Length: 700 feet
- Deck Width:
- Roadway Width:
- Above Vertical Clearance:
- “Public Invited To Walk Across New Downtown Bridge Next Month.” WFPL [Louisville], 5 Nov. 2015.
- Helmer, Katrina. “Kennedy Bridge open 5 lanes of southbound traffic.” WDRB [Louisville], 10 Oct. 2016.
- Coghill, Erica. “Abraham Lincoln Bridge officially opens”. WLKY [Louisville], 7 Dec. 2015.
- “High demand depletes RiverLink transponders on Ohio River bridges.” News and Tribune [Jeffersonville], 2 Jan. 2016.
- Sirianni, Maura; Green, Marcus; Mitchell, Kyle. “Tolling begins on the Lewis and Clark, Lincoln and Kennedy bridges.” WDRB [Louisville], 30 Dec. 2016.
- Shafer, Sheldon S. “Bridge options unveiled.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 19 Jul. 2006.
- “Structured Public Involvement in Context-Sensitive Large Bridge Design Using Casewise Visual Evaluation: Case Study of Section 2 of Ohio River Bridges Project.” Transportation Research Record, 14 Feb. 2008.
- “FHWA Office of Innovative Program Delivery: Project Profiles.” Federal Highway Administration.
- Schuh, David. “Abraham Lincoln Bridge officially opens to northbound traffic.” WDRB [Louisville], 6 Dec. 2015.
- “UPDATE: All lanes of Kennedy Bridge, including ramp to I-64 West, now open.” WDRB [Louisville], 14 Nov. 2016.
- Green, Marcus. “Kentucky joins E-Z Pass for Ohio Bridges Bridges Project”. WDRB [Louisville], 29 Jul. 2015.
- Green, Marcus. “Electronic tracking at bridges means no booths”. Courier-Journal [Louisville], 8 Feb. 2008.
- “Schedule & Cost.” Ohio River Bridges Project.
- “Bridge types selected on Ohio River Bridges Project.” The Ohio River Bridges, 12 Dec. 2006.
- Marcus, Green. “State to delay bond sales for bridges project.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 8 May 2009.
- Green, Marcus. “Build bridges soon, mayor says.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 19 Jan. 2007.
- Green, Marcus. “Price tag for bridges: $4.1 billion.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 2 Oct. 2007.
- Green, Marcus. “Great Lawn overpass disputed.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 15 May 2007.
- Green, Marcus. “Bridges authority endorses toll-based financial report.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 16 Dec. 2010.
- Marcus, Green. “State to delay bond sales for bridges project.” Courier-Journal [Louisville]. 8 May 2009.
- “Louisville bridge plans move ahead.” Associated Press, 18 Dec. 2009.
- Marcus, Green. “Lack of Ohio River bridges funding plan may threaten area projects.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 19 Jan. 2010.
- Marcus, Green. “Tolls would fund more than half of Ohio River Bridges cost.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 16 July 2010.
- Klepal, Dan. “Metro council passes non-binding resolution opposing tolls on existing bridges.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 23 Sept. 2010.
- Marcus, Green. “Anti-toll groups form in Louisville.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 24 Mar. 2010.
- Marcus, Green. “City may pave way on electronic tolling with cashless system.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 6 Jun. 2010.
- White, Charlie. “Ohio River bridges price tag slashed by $240 million.” Courier-Journal [Louisville]. 25 Jan. 2014.
- Green, Marcus. “Bridges plan changes hatched at December meeting in Indianapolis.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 17 Jan. 2011.
- Shafer, Sheldon S. “Spaghetti Junction | Parks chief sees need to relocate Extreme Park.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 4 Jan. 2011.
- Karman III, John R. “Ohio River Bridges project secures low-interest loan.” Business First [Louisville], 20 Nov. 2013.
- Karman III, John R. “Kentucky infrastructure authority approves financing for bridges project.” Business First [Louisville], 14 Nov. 2013.
- White, Charlie. “Ohio River bridges price tag slashed by $240 million.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 25 Jan. 2014.
- “Ohio River Bridges Downtown Crossing is Complete.” Walsh Group, 2016 Nov.
- Shafter, Sheldon S. “Bridge timeline | 3 years of construction.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 1 Dec. 2015.