John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge

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John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge
JFK Memorial Bridge Louisville KY.jpg
The John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge in 2006 as seen from Jeffersonville, Indiana
Carries 7 lanes of I-65
4 lanes Northbound 3 lanes Southbound
Crosses Ohio River
Locale Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana
Design Cantilever bridge
Total length 2,498 ft (761 m)
Longest span 700 ft (213 m) × 2 spans
Opened December 6, 1963
Coordinates 38°15′52″N 85°44′37″W / 38.26444°N 85.74361°W / 38.26444; -85.74361Coordinates: 38°15′52″N 85°44′37″W / 38.26444°N 85.74361°W / 38.26444; -85.74361
John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge is located in Kentucky
John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge

The John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge is a seven-lane, single-deck cantilever bridge that carries Interstate 65 across the Ohio River, connecting Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana. The main span is 700 feet (213 m) (two spans) and the bridge has a total length of 2,498 feet (761 m). There are four lanes that go northbound and three lanes that carry southbound traffic.


Designed by the Louisville engineering firm of Hazelet & Erdal, construction began in the spring of 1961 and completed in late 1963 at a cost of $10 million. The span had yet to be named when U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Four days later, Kentucky Governor Bert T. Combs announced that there was wide agreement that the bridge would be named in Kennedy's honor. The bridge was dedicated and opened for northbound traffic on December 6, and southbound traffic began flowing a few weeks later.

Between the late 1990s and 2006, the bridge was covered with rust-like spots and the state of Kentucky had failed in attempts to rectify this, a subject of local controversy. The state twice paid contractors to repaint the bridge who then failed to do so. The attempts cost over $23 million, with little apparent result. The first of the two contracts, awarded in 1999, ended two years later in a bribery scandal that resulted in criminal prosecution.[1]

In October 2006, the state awarded a $14.7 million contract to Intech Contracting of Lexington to paint half the bridge by the summer of 2007. The new contract differed in that the project was split in two, and the original plans for a three color paint scheme were replaced with a simpler all beige colored one. The very southernmost portion of the bridge was completed in three colors (brown, beige, and green), although this will be painted over.[2]

On December 5, 2007, the painting project was completed at a cost of $59 million which included the two previous failed painting projects.[3]

Second span[edit]

The bridge during the last repainting project. Note the far right part of the bridge painted in a three color scheme, originally planned for the whole bridge. This scheme was abandoned and the entire bridge was painted in a light grey.

In 2013, Kentucky broke ground on a second span as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project, a project to relieve traffic congestion in the Louisville area. The new suspension-style bridge, scheduled to open in 2016, is initially slated to carry all Interstate 65 traffic over the Ohio River while the Kennedy Bridge receives a new deck. When the redecking of the Kennedy Bridge is complete, it will be converted to carry six lanes of southbound-only I-65 traffic, while the bridge under construction will carry six lanes of northbound I-65 traffic.

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