Ohio River Bridges project on schedule

Kentucky and Indiana, the architects behind the Ohio River Bridges Project, will split the cost of the $2.6bn expansion. Only Indiana will pursue a public-private partnership.

The Ohio River Bridges Project, which is a collaborative effort between Kentucky and Indiana, is on track for a 2012 commencement. The states have reportedly come to a conclusion on the way that the financing will be structured, and as a result have 'agreed to disagree' on the best way forward. Indiana is likely to pursue a public-private partnership (PPP) while Kentucky is expected to adopt a design-build scenario.

The reason for the different approaches underscores the segmented nature of the US for PPPs, as the legislation varies from state to state. Indiana, which set the precedent for toll road PPPs with the Indiana Toll Road lease in 2006, is further along than Kentucky. Waiting for a formal law to be enacted would likely delay the start of the project.

At this point, according to a source at the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority, the states have only outlined their preferences for the development of the project, which involves the construction of two new bridges that are meant to enhance safety and curb traffic in the Louisville, Kentucky and Southern Indiana regions.

“The next step is that we are responsible for delivering a financial plan that supports the project, which will be based on the delivery models selected by both states. That should be coming in the next few weeks,” the source said.

In late December, Kentucky and Indiana each agreed to take responsibility for 50 percent of the  project – including financing and construction – which, according to a press release, is one of the largest undertakings of its kind in US history. 

At that time, the bridges authority revealed that the estimated cost of construction had been slashed from $4.1 billion to $2.6 billion, with the states sharing the price equally. Kentucky and Indiana will finance and construct the downtown and East End portions of the project, respectively.