New bridge connecting downtown Louisville, Ky., to southern Indiana expected to open early

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LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says a new Ohio River bridge between downtown Louisville and southern Indiana is expected to open earlier than originally projected.

Beshear announced Friday that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is accelerating construction on the span and it should open to traffic by next January. It had been slated to open in April 2016.

"Just over a year and a half ago, we gathered at this spot to break ground on the Downtown Crossing," Beshear said in a statement. "Since then, we've watched the towers rise out of the river and the much-needed Downtown bridge begin to take shape. Today's announcement means progress will be coming at an even faster pace."

Beshear said the move would allow crews to make more extensive improvements to restore the Kennedy Bridge, which currently carries Interstate 65 across the Ohio River. It will be closed for repairs after the new bridge opens.

The $22 million cost for the extra repairs and accelerated work will come from a contingency account to cover any changes in the project.

"This is a smart, long-term investment that will benefit drivers and taxpayers for decades to come," Beshear said. "They will be getting two interstate bridges downtown — a brand new one and a like-new Kennedy Bridge."

Construction crews are still slated to finish a second new bridge over the Ohio River connecting Louisville to southern Indiana by October 2016.

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