Gov. Steve Beshear, joined by Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, announced the beginning of a major construction project to repair the pavement on Interstate 65 in Jefferson County.
The $28.7 million project — “Revive 65” — involves the replacement of concrete pavement with asphalt on the 3-mi. (4.8 km) section of interstate between Fern Valley Road and I-264 (Watterson Expressway). It is among a dozen road and bridge projects, totaling more than $195 million, under way or planned for the Louisville area.
“The current pavement was placed in 1988 — 21 years ago — and erosion beneath the road bed has caused the concrete slabs to settle unevenly,” Beshear said. “Anyone who’s traveled this part of I-65 knows it’s a rough ride. For motorcycles, it’s even rougher and potentially dangerous. It’s an urgent project that we need to get done for the sake of highway safety.”
Eighteen million dollars of the cost of Revive 65 is being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“I am proud that the Recovery Act is funding the Revive 65 project. This federal investment will make travel safer for Louisville families, improve the flow of commerce for our businesses, and create jobs for workers here in our community,” said Congressman John Yarmuth.
Abramson, who joined the governor for a news conference at the UPS Global Operations Center, said Revive 65 and the other Louisville-area projects are investments for all of Kentucky.
“If Louisville can’t move goods and services through the region quickly, the entire economy of the Commonwealth is harmed,” Abramson said. “By investing in our roads, our bridges and the airport, we ensure that companies as big as UPS — or as small as the corner bakery — have the routes necessary to do business.”
To complete Revive 65 as quickly as possible, contractors worked 24 hours a day for 16 days in each direction. Work was scheduled to begin Sept. 21, on the northbound lanes of I-65.
The section of I-65 that normally is five lanes wide on each side will be reduced to three lanes in each direction during construction. In the northern section of the project near the Watterson, where each side of I-65 normally is three lanes wide, traffic will be reduced to two lanes in each direction during construction.
The interstate will not be closed, but Kentucky Transportation Secretary Joe Prather said motorists are strongly encouraged to avoid the construction area.
“This portion of Interstate 65 is probably the most heavily traveled section of interstate in Kentucky with an average of 186,000 vehicles per day, so we’re encouraging people to plan now to take alternate routes,” said Prather.
The Transportation Cabinet is using an array of communications to spread the word about Revive 65 to the public. A Web site, revive65.ky.gov, shows a map of the construction area and will be regularly updated with construction news. Radio and newspaper advertising to alert motorists of the impending lane closures began and a Twitter account has been created to provide daily information.
Variable message signs will flash information up and down I-65 and at all interstate approaches to Louisville. Leaflets have been printed for travelers arriving at Louisville International Airport. And the Transportation Cabinet also has distributed information to trucking industry organizations and motorist associations, such as AAA.
The Transportation Cabinet also has worked proactively with major employers in the area — UPS, Ford, the Louisville Regional Airport Authority and Jefferson County Public Schools — that may need to adjust delivery routes and employee shifts.
When lane closures are in place, the exit ramp to Preston Highway/Grade Lane for northbound traffic will be closed for a portion of time, as will the entrance ramp from Grade Lane to southbound I-65. The project also includes bridge deck overlays and bridge joint and guardrail replacements.
A tri-venture of three companies — Louisville Paving, Hall Contracting and Hinkle Construction — was awarded the contract for Revive 65. Work on mainline I-65 must be completed no later than Nov. 15. All remaining ramp work will be completed by Dec. 15.
Beshear said Revive 65 is doubly significant because of its partial funding through the Recovery Act, also known as the federal stimulus. Through Aug. 31, contractors on Recovery Act projects in Kentucky reported paying more than $3.6 million in wages.
“The Recovery Act has one primary purpose — to put Americans, and Kentuckians, to work — and that’s exactly what it’s doing,” Beshear said. “That’s money being pumped back into the Kentucky economy by Kentucky workers.”