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Ohio River Bridges

I-65 Kennedy Bridge and Louisville’s “Spaghetti Junction” interchange, looking east

Ohio River Bridges, Jefferson County, Kentucky, and Clark County, Indiana, United States

Enhancing Safety, Reducing Traffic, and Improving Transportation Connections

In 1996, the Kentucky Indiana Planning and Development Agency, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) initiated the Ohio River Major Investment Study (ORMIS) to address current and future travel across the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana in the Louisville region. The ORMIS recommended that INDOT and KYTC build two new bridges on new alignments crossing the Ohio River, and the two agencies are now cooperating on the $2.3 billion Louisville–Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project to meet the region’s cross-river transportation needs. The project will enhance safety, reduce traffic congestion, and improve transportation connections throughout this growing metropolitan area.

INDOT and KYTC selected the Community Transportation Solutions (CTS) joint venture (JV) in 1998 to serve as the general engineering consultant (GEC) responsible for contract scope and budget development, design review, and coordination of the six section design consultants. Parsons is the managing partner in the JV.

The Ohio River Bridges Project, one of the largest transportation improvements in the nation, was designated by Congress as one of 13 projects of national importance. In addition to the two major bridges, the project involves 100+ highway bridges, a 1,700-ft hard-rock tunnel, and 100+ right-of-way acquisitions.


Ohio River Bridges Project

Area Map of Ohio River Bridges Project

A Tale of Two Crossings

Under a March 2012 Memorandum of Understanding, KYTC is responsible for the Downtown Crossing and has therefore taken the lead on its financing, design, and construction, while INDOT is responsible for financing, design, and construction of the East End Crossing. Parsons, as lead firm in the GEC JV, was responsible for managing preparation of the environmental impact documents and for overseeing preliminary design for the project, including both the Downtown Crossing between Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana, and for the East End Crossing from the intersection of SR 841/I-265 and I-71 in Kentucky to the SR 265/SR 62 interchange in Indiana. The total project length of 8 miles involves more than 6 miles of new-terrain freeway.

A cable-stayed bridge with three sets of twin towers was chosen for the Downtown Crossing to allow more open views of the downtown Louisville skyline and cohesion with its urban surroundings. Work on the Downtown Crossing began in summer 2013, with completion scheduled for late 2016. Work includes:

  • Building a new I-65 bridge with six northbound lanes
  • Reconfiguring Spaghetti Junction (I-64, I-65, and I-71)
  • Reconfiguring Indiana roadway and bridge approaches
  • Rehabbing the Kennedy Bridge (I-65) with six southbound lanes
US 31 Clark Memorial Bridge and I-65 Kennedy Bridge, looking east

US 31 Clark Memorial Bridge and I-65 Kennedy Bridge, looking east

The East End Crossing will feature a new, state-of-the-art, cable-stayed bridge; a tunnel under historic property in Kentucky; and 4 miles of new-terrain highway in Indiana. Completion is scheduled for 2016. Highlights include:

  • Building a new East End bridge 8 miles upstream from downtown Louisville
  • Extending the Snyder Freeway (SR 841/I-265) in Kentucky to the new bridge, including a 1,700-ft tunnel under the Drumanard Estate in Prospect
  • Constructing a 4-mile, new-terrain highway in Indiana that will extend the Lee Hamilton Highway (SR 62/SR 265) to the new bridge

Delivering Competitive and Safe Solutions While Boosting the Local Economy

Parsons leads the CTS JV as the overall project GEC, and we lead INDOT’s East End Crossing technical team overseeing the final design and construction. For its role in the CTS partnership, Parsons received the 2009 Global Road Achievement Award for program management from the International Road Federation. The JV partners have worked successfully together since 1998, building trust with stakeholders, including the state transportation agencies, the public, and others.

Louisville’s “Spaghetti Junction” interchange of I-64, I-65, and I-71, looking east

Louisville’s “Spaghetti Junction” interchange of I-64, I-65, and I-71, looking east

Under the GEC contract, CTS completed a supplemental environmental impact statement that was required after the states decided to include tolling in their financial plan for delivering the project as well as value engineering elements that reduced the extent and scale of the project from $4.1 billion to $2.3 billion. The states, which had been following a traditional design-bid-build process for project delivery, also chose to pursue alternative delivery contracts to accelerate the project and reduce long-term inflation and financing costs. Parsons and the JV, as technical advisors, helped Indiana and Kentucky develop and execute their individual alternative delivery procurement plans. Indiana’s $763 million East End Crossing public-private partnership procurement was conducted with Parsons’ help in less than 1 year from start to finish, and it met every target date—a rare achievement for this type of procurement.

Safety is one of Parsons’ core values, and we are proud that our safety program for the CTS office has led to more than 450,000 hours worked without an incident.

Existing I-65 Kennedy Bridge adjacent to site of future I-65 northbound bridge, looking west.

Existing I-65 Kennedy Bridge adjacent to site of future I-65 northbound bridge, looking west.

The project will stimulate the economy of the entire Louisville–Southern Indiana region. The CTS team has provided professional opportunities for minority business enterprises through minority and small-business outreach programs, marketing, engineering, and property management. The Ohio River Bridges Project’s Kentucky Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, a key part of the CTS contract since 2005, has reached out to and engaged businesses across Kentucky. The multifaceted program included mentoring for businesses; advice on banking, bonding, and insurance; an engineering scholars program for elementary, middle, and high school students; and multiple outreach activities in the broader community.

Setting a new standard of efficiency and cost-saving solutions for transportation projects, Parsons is proud to guide Kentucky and Indiana through the largest bi-state transportation project they have undertaken. We have extensive experience managing large, complex, multisite projects and have worked on more than 4,500 bridges worldwide during our 70-year history.