HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) After years of planning, meetings and designing, construction is starting on the first section of the I-69 Ohio River Crossing that will eventually connect southwest Indiana to western Kentucky.

Leaders from both sides of the Ohio River were among those breaking ground on a new stretch in evansville leading to the planned new bridge.

For many years, people have been seeing signs or seen stories across western Kentucky, or southwest Indiana, saying the new I-69 bridge is coming. With today’s groundbreaking at the site for the new interchange at I-69 and Highway 41, it is now starting to become a reality.

“I always believe that a puzzle comes together one piece at a time. That’s what we got going on here,” said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray.

The first piece to an interstate connection between Henderson and Evansville is a six-mile stretch running from Kentucky 425 to Highway 60, that includes three new or rebuilt interchanges. It’s one of three sections of the new crossing. 

“It’s also the first part of the end of a project that’s been going on for a long time, “said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

Governor Beshear says the project is fully funded in Kentucky’s budget, and Indiana lawmakers have budgeted the design phase for their approach to the new bridge, which Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke says has been a long time coming.

“Many people have wondered will we ever be able to cross the Ohio River on a new bridge connecting our two great states. This today is proof positive that we are,” he said.

“It’s great. I’m just waiting for these machines to crank up, so we can move some dirt,” said Bill Corum of Bridgelink, whose group advocated for a new bridge. He also says it will help bring more jobs to other communities already in I-69’s path.

“When they look for a map, when we get this thing going, at least under construction, and get that bridge going, and look there and say this community and this county is on an interstate highway connected,” Corum explained.

Kentucky Transportation officials add this section is expected to be done as early as 2025. Design work for a new bridge will start in 2025 with construction starting in 2027. That construction of the bridge connecting to I-69 in Evansville will go until at least 2031.

More information about the project can be found at this website.

(This story was originally published on June 22, 2022)