Work Speeds Ahead on Replacing Century-Old Bridges With Tunnel

Indiana Department of Transportation Finalizes Deal for Ohio River Bridge

Wed January 30, 2013 - Midwest Edition
Tom Davies - ASSOCIATED PRESS



INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indiana Department of Transportation announced Dec. 28 that the state had finalized its agreement with the partnership group that will build a new Ohio River bridge between Indiana and Kentucky for $763 million.

The step represents a final decision on the selection of the WVB East End Partners consortium that the Indiana Finance Authority preliminarily approved in November.

Indiana is overseeing construction of the so-called East End bridge that will complete an interstate loop around Louisville, Ky., with a crossing between Utica, Ind., and Prospect, Ky. Kentucky officials are handling construction of a second bridge for Interstate 65 at downtown Louisville and upgrades to the current bridge. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials said that the agency gave notice to proceed to Walsh Construction Co., which will build the downtown crossing.

Motorists will pay tolls to use all three of the spans after they’re completed.

The WVB East End Partners group can now complete design work on the East End bridge that is scheduled for completion in late 2016, Indiana highway department spokesman Will Wingfield said.

“We’re thinking it’s likely construction crews will start mobilizing this summer,” Wingfield said.

The $763 million bid from WVB East End Partners is 23 percent below the project’s previous $987 million cost estimate, which doesn’t include costs for land acquisition and relocating utilities. WVB East End Partners includes Walsh Investors, VINCI Concessions and Bilfinger Berger and 21 other entities.

The Indiana Finance Authority formally finalized the deal Dec. 27 after Gov. Mitch Daniels gave it his approval earlier in the month, Wingfield said.

Kentucky is financing its bridge projects through traditional state bonding. In contrast, Indiana is using a public-private arrangement under which WVB East End Partners will line up its own financing for the East End bridge and receive annual payments from the state for 35 years after the bridge opens.

“At this point, the team needs to secure their financing for the project,” Wingfield said. “We are moving forward with the project now.”

Wingfield said Indiana and Kentucky officials will later choose a private company to manage tolling on the bridges.