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Kentucky Begins Clearing Way for New Downtown Bridge With Preservation, Redevelopment Along East Main

LOUISVILLE – To clear the path for construction of a new Downtown Crossing of the Ohio River Bridges Project and bolster economic redevelopment near Louisville Slugger Field, crews today began demolishing several decaying, contaminated buildings along East Main Street.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky will preserve a cluster of century-old buildings at the corner of Main and Jackson streets, known as the Vermont American Complex, for redevelopment, Gov. Steve Beshear said at a news conference near the site.

A portion of the property will be used for a wider, redesigned I-65 that will carry traffic from the renovated Kennedy Bridge, which will be converted to southbound only. A new bridge, which will be built immediately east of the existing Kennedy Bridge, will carry northbound I-65 traffic.

“We are preserving the past and paving the way for progress,” Gov. Beshear said. “This city block will be the site of 21st century innovation and 19th century preservation.”

Gov. Beshear was joined by Mayor Greg Fischer, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth and state and local lawmakers at the event, which culminated with the start of demolition of the easternmost buildings in the complex.

“Today, we’re breaking ground on a new phase in the construction of the downtown bridge,” said Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3). “This project will create thousands of jobs in the region and, once completed, will help businesses transport goods and services, generate economic development, and alleviate congestion for hundreds of thousands of drivers every day.”

State officials are negotiating the terms of a potential sale of the preserved buildings with a company that has submitted plans for redevelopment of the 1.5-acre tract. The identity of the prospective buyer is confidential until negotiations have concluded.

“As we begin to build the bridges and the roadways leading to them, we are committed to doing it in a way that is sensitive to the environment, sensitive to neighborhoods and sensitive to historic properties such as the Vermont American, which has been vacant for decades,” said Mayor Fischer. “This property has been eyed for redevelopment for years by many people and by city leaders as a way to further connect downtown to the Butchertown and NuLu neighborhoods.”

The previous owners of the Vermont American property, Robert Bosch Tool Corporation, will pay the costs of extensive environmental clean-up of the courtyard and grounds.

Crews used heavy equipment to begin demolishing the buildings and removing the debris. Workers will also excavate and replace soil in the courtyard and foundation areas to remove environmental contamination from heavy metals. The demolition work by AMEC and Cardinal Industrial of Louisville is expected to take about a month.

Construction work on the Downtown Crossing is expected to begin next spring following selection of a design-build construction team later this year.

Next month, the State of Indiana, Kentucky’s partner in the Ohio River Bridges Project, will begin the first construction element of the massive project – a $5.5 million road extension that will ultimately connect the River Ridge Commerce Center to State Road 265 and the future East End Bridge.