The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) are committed to completing this critical interstate link between the two states. The I-69 Ohio River Crossing project (I-69 ORX) includes a new 4-lane river crossing between Evansville, Indiana and Henderson, Kentucky and 11. 2 miles of new interstate, including 8.4 miles on new terrain and 2.8 miles of upgrades to US 41.
I-69 ORX includes a new 4-lane river crossing to connect Evansville, IN and Henderson, KY and improvements on both sides of the river. It includes 11.2 miles of new interstate. Section 1, the approach work in Kentucky, will extend I-69 by more than six miles and includes interchanges with KY 351, US 41 near Kimsey Lane and at US 60. Section 3 includes the approach roadways and bridges in Indiana and a new interchange at I-69 and the Veterans Memorial Parkway.
Construction of Section 1 in Kentucky started in summer 2022 and is expected to be complete in late 2025. Design work on Section 3 in Indiana is underway, with a contract expected to be awarded in 2023, construction expected to begin in 2024 and be complete in 2026. Construction on the new I-69 bridge is expected to begin in 2027 and be complete by 2031. Both states are looking for opportunities to accelerate that timeline.
Construction on Section 1 has started in Henderson, Kentucky and design work is underway for Section 3 in Indiana.
Indiana and Kentucky are moving forward with detailed design plans, right-of-way appraisals and land purchases, the procurement process and construction.
I-69 ORX is divided into three sections for construction of the megaproject with approach work to be completed in both Indiana and Kentucky before construction begins on the river crossing. Construction started on the Kentucky approach in 2022. Design work is underway on the Indiana approach with construction expected to begin in 2024. Construction is scheduled to begin on the new Ohio River crossing in 2027, when funding is available. Both states are looking for opportunities to accelerate that timeline.
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The purpose and need of the project is to complete the I-69 connection between Indiana and Kentucky, improve long-term cross-river mobility for the area, reduce congestion and delay, and improve safety.
The combined Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision approved by the Federal Highway Administration in September 2021 identified Central Alternative 1B Modified as the Selected Alternative. It includes a new four-lane I-69 bridge and retains one US 41 bridge for local traffic. It includes 11.2 miles of new interstate, with the construction of 8.4 miles of I-69 on new terrain and upgrades to 2.8 miles of existing US 41 to meet interstate standards. New interchanges will be added at:
- Existing I-69 in Indiana
- US 60 in Kentucky
- Existing US 41 south of Henderson between Van Wyk Road and Kimsey Lane
One US 41 bridge will remain in use after construction of the I-69 bridge is complete. Only the I-69 river crossing will be tolled.
Identifying the Selected Alternative was a multi-step process that included leadership in both states, the community and state and federal agencies. Central Alternative 1B is the Selected Alternative for the following reasons:
- Fewest residential relocations
- No commercial relocations
- Fewest impacts to the following resources:
- Linear feet of streams
- Forested habitat and potential habitat for the federally endangered Indiana bat and federally threatened northern long-eared bat
- Managed lands
- Section 4(f) resources including publicly owned parks, recreation areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, or public and private historic properties
- Sites with recognized environmental conditions, such as hazardous substances or petroleum products
- Cross-river route redundancy for the region
- Lowest total cost
Construction has been separated into Sections 1, 2 and 3. The total estimated construction costs are $257.3 million for Section 1 and $1.015 billion for Section 2 and Section 3 (year of expenditure).
The design of the new Ohio River bridge is not complete. The FEIS/ROD established where the bridge will be located. A decision on the bridge type will be made during the procurement and final design process.
Improving long-term cross-river mobility between Evansville and Henderson has to include a discussion of the US 41 bridges. The northbound span opened in 1932 and the southbound bridge opened in 1965. Maintenance costs are high. Indiana and Kentucky have spent more than $50 million on maintenance costs on the US 41 bridges since 2005. A report on the US 41 bridges finds it would cost an estimated $293 million to maintain the two bridges through 2062.
Due to its historic significance and serviceable condition, the northbound US 41 will be retained for two-way traffic.
A marketing plan will be undertaken to determine if there is any group or agency that would be willing and able to maintain and preserve the bridge. If there are no such groups or agencies found, the bridge would be demolished after construction of the I-69 bridge.
Because of the large expense to maintain the aging bridge, the small number of potential users and the lack of master planning for such facilities, plans do not include maintaining one of the US 41 bridges for cyclists and pedestrians.
During the development of the project, the City of Henderson and Henderson County were offered the opportunity to assume ownership and responsibility of the bridge for this purpose, but each declined. Letters were also sent to Vanderburgh County and the City of Evansville encouraging them to contact Henderson and Henderson County if they wanted to discuss a possible partnership about the bridge.
The new I-69 bridge will be tolled. After receiving public comments and developing a financial plan for the project, INDOT and KYTC determined the US 41 bridge that will remain in use after construction of the I-69 river crossing will not be tolled.
Toll revenue is needed to cover debt service for the project, capital costs and operations and maintenance of the project. The only current funding source to fill the gap is from the states’ traditional programs through direct funding and/or financing.
A bi-state body will be created to develop toll policy (including toll rates) before construction begins on the river crossing. The FEIS and ROD inform the bi-state body of impacts and commitments associated with the implementation of tolls.