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Cable-Stayed Bridge Joins Ohio River Crossings
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Aerial rendering of the new cable-stayed bridge that will link Utica, Indiana, and Prospect, Kentucky
The new cable-stayed bridge will link Utica, Indiana, and Prospect, Kentucky, for the first time, cutting the driving time between the two towns by approximately 40 minutes. The four-lane bridge will be set on a roughly 30-degree skew across the river to preserve environmental and historical areas. Courtesy of WVB East End Partners

Work is moving ahead on a new cable-stayed bridge that will connect Utica, Indiana, and Prospect, Kentucky, across the Ohio River, completing an interstate loop around Louisville.

February 12, 2013—Work is moving forward on a new cable-stayed bridge that will link Utica, Indiana, and Prospect, Kentucky, across the Ohio River for the first time. Once the East End bridge and its associated highway extensions are finished, it will connect the Lee Hamilton Highway (Indiana Route 265) and the Gene Snyder Freeway (Kentucky Route 841), closing an interstate loop around the Louisville, Kentucky, metro area and saving drivers between the two cities approximately 40 minutes.

The new four-lane bridge will carry two lanes of northbound and two lanes of southbound traffic, as well as an 11 ft wide pedestrian and bicycle path that will extend along its west side. The bridge will be constructed wide enough to carry six lanes so that simply restriping the deck will increase the bridge’s capacity. Shoulders tapering between 8 and 12 ft will extend along the roadways’ exterior edges in the initial four-lane configuration. Twin convex diamond towers will be used to support the cables, which will attach to the bridge’s deck.

The selection of a bridge type for the crossing was a lengthy process, according to Ron Heustis, P.E., M.ASCE, the Indiana Department of Transportation’s (INDOT) senior project manager who is responsible for the owner’s design review and construction oversight of the East End Crossing project. Heustis wrote in response to questions submitted by Civil Engineering online.

“The 900 foot width of the Ohio River navigation channel requires a long-span bridge,” Heustis said. “The project team looked at a variety of long-span bridge types, including steel truss, cable-stayed, and suspension bridges, [but] with the navigation channel being nearly 1,050 feet wide on the skew, an extremely long truss span would have been required.” The INDOT selected the cable-stayed bridge design as the most cost effective after input from neighborhood advisory groups, the general public, and the project team indicated that it was also the “most appealing bridge type for the setting,” he said.

The bridge will be set on an approximately 30-degree skew across the river, according to Heustis, which is atypical for a major river crossing. “This alignment was driven by the high number of historic and environmentally sensitive properties along both the Indiana and Kentucky bridge approaches,” he said. Minimizing the impact to these properties while providing the most cost-effective overall project alternative drove the decision-making process. 

 Ground view rendering of bridge, featuring twin convex diamond towers

The proposed foundations for each of the towers will be 110 ft
deep drilled shafts topped by a 16 ft thick pier cap that will be cast
in a floating precast cofferdam tub. Twin convex diamond towers
will be used to support the cables, which will attach to the bridge’s
deck. Courtesy of WVB East End Partners

At the crossing, the river is approximately 40 ft deep at normal pool and contains 40 to 50 ft deep gravel deposits in the riverbed, atop limestone bedrock, Heustis said. The proposed foundations for each of the towers will be a dozen 8 ft diameter drilled shafts that will extend 110 ft below normal pool elevation and be topped with a 16 ft thick pier cap that will be cast in a floating precast cofferdam tub. The cofferdam tub will also act as a template for the installation of the drilled shafts. The pier cap will begin below the normal pool elevation of the river and extend approximately 12 ft above it, he said. The design team selected this foundation because it was determined “to best meet their preferred means and methods of construction and to minimize risks of delays due to river flooding.”

The bridge is part of a larger $2.6-billion infrastructure project in the area, dubbed the Ohio River Bridges Project, that also includes new highways, interstate interchanges, a tunnel, and the construction of a second bridge that will connect downtown Louisville to Indiana. The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority—an independent, bistate government agency—was formed by the states of Kentucky and Indiana in 2010 to develop a financial plan for the extensive infrastructure program.

The public-private partnership developer for the East End crossing is WVB East End Partners, an equity team comprising Chicago-based Walsh Investors, LLC; Rueil-Malmaison, France-based VINCI Concessions S.A.S; and Luxembourg, Belgium-based Bilfinger Berger PI International Holding GmbH.

The East End bridge project broke ground in the summer and the developer moved on to demolition work, field surveys, and geotechnical investigation upon signing its contract with the Indiana Finance Authority on December 27, 2012. The final notice to proceed and the start of construction is anticipated for the end of March 2013, Heustis said.

The INDOT estimates that the $763-million bridge project will be completed and open for traffic by the end of October 2016.


 

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