- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says a new Ohio River bridge between downtown Louisville and southern Indiana is expected to open earlier than projected.

Media report Beshear announced Monday that the bridge, originally slated to open next year, will carry drivers by Christmas. He said the exact opening date hasn’t been determined yet, but workers are ahead of schedule and on budget.

Beshear said the bridge would temporarily carry two-way traffic as crews make more extensive improvements to restore the adjacent Kennedy Bridge, which currently carries Interstate 65 across the Ohio River.

Crews broke ground on the long-awaited project in 2013. Beshear, who made the announcement from the deck of the new span, said it was exciting to “stand on a bridge that was for decades a nebulous vision.”

Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Jeffersonville, Indiana, Mayor Mike Moore joined Beshear for the announcement and each signed a golden bolt that will be among the last to be put into place on the deck of the new bridge.

“I’m excited to be a part of this moment and proud of all this bridge represents,” Ellspermann said. “Building these two bridges will transform Indiana and Kentucky.”

Officials said there will be a public celebration and pedestrians will be able to walk along the bridge before it opens to vehicle traffic.

After work on the Kennedy Bridge is complete, it will eventually carry six lanes of I-65 South traffic and the new bridge, which hasn’t yet been named, will carry six lanes of I-65 North traffic.

Work on both bridges is scheduled to be finished in December 2016.

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