The Lewis and Clark Bridge carries Interstate 265 over the Ohio River between Louisville, Kentucky and 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.
Proposals to construct a northeastern bypass of the Louisville metropolitan area along the Interstate 265 corridor had been long discussed for decades. 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. 1 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 a second Interstate 65 bridge be considered. The Federal Highway Administration came to the same conclusion in 2003. 7 8 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. 2 The Ohio River Bridges Project was formally announced as a partnership between the two states in July 2012. 1
The Bridge Type Selection Process began in early 2005, with the design teams presenting 15 renderings and plans. 6 9 The public was invited to vote on the proposals via the Project website and at open houses. 9 11 Numerous comments at the public meetings and votes from the online forms and open houses voiced a strong desire for the East End Bridge to be as “visually transparent” as possible, 10 for the crossing to be multi-modal: open to both motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. By July 2006, a committee of 16 people from the two states had selected three bridge types. 9 12 On December 12, 2006, 7 Design A-15, a cable-stayed suspension bridge with two 229-foot convex diamond towers and suspension cables that radiated down to the center of the span, was selected. 6 The center cable design maximized the bridge’s “transparency” and reduced the span’s visual impact from land. It was also $15 million cheaper than the other alternatives and less maintenance intensive. 9 The crossing would include room for three lanes of traffic in each direction and a 17-foot-wide pedestrian and cyclist path.
Adjacent to the bridge, the Drumanard Tunnel was proposed to pass underneath the historic Dumanard Estate via two six-lane tubes. 13 The Say No to Bridge Tolls group requested to the Kentucky Heritage Council that the historic Drumanard estate, which the tunnel would pass under, be de-listed from the National Register of Historic Places to reduce costs. 14 The anti-toll group noted that the estate was “not architecturally or historically significant.” The property was listed on the Register in 1983 and expanded to include the grounds as they had been designed by the landscaping firm owned by Frederick Law Olmsted. Ultimately, the de-listing proposal did not move forward.
In 2006, the Kentucky General Assembly allocated $789 million for the Ohio River Bridges Project over the next six years. 15 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 were built without an alternate funding plan. 17 David Williams, Kentucky’s Senate president, pre-filed a bill allowing local authorities to consider tolls and other funding sources. Tolling would remove as much as 16 years from the construction schedule and had support from the Build the Bridges Coalition and other local leaders. 16
The financial plan for the Project was modified in October 2007 as the project cost had escalated to $4.1 billion. 16 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. 18 On December 18, Kentucky Governor Beshear announced the sale of $100 million in bonds towards the Ohio River Bridges Project. 20 21 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. 22 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. 26 Tolls would be collected over the next 40 years. 19
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. 29 30 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. 29 31 The Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority approved the state joining the EZ-Pass consortium in July 2015. 3 Motorists would choose to be tolled by an EZ-Pass transponder, decal, or pay-by-mail system.
An updated Financial Plan released in 2016 pegged the estimated cost of the Project at $2.327 billion: 2
- 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
Construction began on rebuilding the US Route 42 interchange in Prospect in May 2006, 13 with work commencing on a 12-foot by 12-foot test bore for the Drumanard Tunnel to evaluate the strength of the rock. 33
Work on the East End Bridge, its approaches, and the Drumanard Tunnel began in the spring of 2013, with groundbreaking ceremonies held on May 29. 34 Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, and officials from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Indiana Department of Transportation attended the ceremony in southern Indiana. Construction of the bridge and tunnel, overseen by the Indiana Department of Transportation, required the removal of 123 residences and 80 businesses. 32 Work entailed:
- Constructing 8½ miles of Interstate 265;
- Boring twin 1,700-foot tunnels for Interstate 265 under the Drumanard Estate in Kentucky;
- Rebuilding the US Route 42 interchange in Prospect;
- Adding a full interchange at Old Salam Road;
- Reconstructing the IN Route 62 interchange; and
- Building a multi-use path alongside Interstate 265 and the East End Bridge.
The new East End Bridge opened to traffic on December 18, 2016. 35 The opening ceremonies included the dedication of the crossing to explorers George Rogers Clark and his brother William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803 to 1806. Tolling for the bridge began on December 30. 36
- State: Indiana, Kentucky
- Route: Interstate 265
- Type: Cable-Stay Suspension
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 2,500 feet
- Main Span Length: 1,200 Feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- Shafer, Sheldon S. “Bridge options unveiled.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 19 Jul. 2006.
- “Schedule & Cost.” Ohio River Bridges Project.
- 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.”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.
- “The Project.” Ohio River Bridges Project.
- “Bridge Type Selection.” The Ohio River Bridges.
- “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.
- Drake, Bob. “Ohio River Bridges Project moves into design phase.” GoBridges.com, 22 Feb. 2007.
- Brake, Alan G. “One Bridge, Two Bridge, Old Bridge, New Bridge.” Louisville Magazine, Mar. 2007.
- “Bridge types selected on Ohio River Bridges Project.” The Ohio River Bridges, 12 Dec. 2006.
- Shafer, Sheldon S. “3 final options for bridge designs unveiled.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 20 Jul. 2006.
- Green, Marcus. “Relief on way for U.S. 42-Snyder intersection.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 26 Apr. 2006.
- Marcus, Green. “Ohio River Bridges Project shouldn’t protect historic Drumanard home, group says.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 17 Jun. 2010.
- 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.
- Davis, Alex. “Indiana buys land for bridges project.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 12 Jun. 2005.
- Green, Marcus. “Workers to begin tunnel for new bridge.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 5 Jun. 2007.
- Green, Ed. “East End Bridge work to begin.” Business First [Louisville], 28 May 2013.
- Beilman, Elizabeth. “At last: East-end bridge, dubbed Lewis and Clark, opens to traffic.” News and Tribune [Jeffersonville], 18 Dec. 2016.
- “Lewis and Clark Bridge Spans Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana.” High Steel News, Spring 2017.