I see the Blue Bridge and I want to paint it Blue - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Blue Bridge paint job put on the fast track

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Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, on Wednesday, delivered some eagerly anticipated news to business, tourism and government leaders of Owensboro and Daviess County: a fast track for painting the "Blue Bridge."

"Owensboro and Daviess County make up one of Kentucky's most progressive and forward-looking communities, and the Owensboro Riverfront is one of its jewels," Gov. Beshear said. "Tremendous effort has gone into the redevelopment of the Riverfront, with the goal of making it nothing short of world class. We are going to complement that effort by ensuring that the Blue Bridge is made to look its best."

The Blue Bridge, AKA the Glover Cary Bridge, carries KY 2262 over the Ohio River between Owensboro and southern Indiana. It is jointly maintained by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).

The bridge's next painting – a $17 million project – was on the KYTC schedule for 2017. At the urging of state Rep. Tommy Thompson and other leaders, that was accelerated to Fiscal Year 2013, and $8.5 million for Kentucky's share of the project was provided in the 2012-2018 Kentucky Highway Plan.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said INDOT agreed to make its half of the funding available on a payment schedule that will enable KYTC to let the project for bids in January or February, with work getting under way in the spring.

 "Providing our share of the funding was only half the solution. We obviously needed Indiana's agreement and cooperation," Gov. Beshear said. "We have worked for several months to reach that agreement, and I want to express my great appreciation to Governor Mitch Daniels and our partners at INDOT."

"This is great news for our community, and I'm happy I could play a role in helping to speed this project up, because the need is there," said Rep. Tommy Thompson, of Owensboro. "This will be a great addition to the riverfront once it's done."

"I'm certainly happy to see the project move forward quickly, and once finished, I have no doubt that it will look great along the waterfront," said Rep. Jim Glenn, of Owensboro.  "I'm glad we could get this done now instead of later."

"This is welcome news," said Sen. Joe Bowen, of Owensboro. "We made it a priority in the transportation budget. While it's important aesthetically, it's more important from an infrastructure maintenance project."

The Owensboro Riverfront annually draws thousands of visitors for such events as the International Bar-B-Q Festival, Bluegrass Roots and Branches Festival, colorful boat races on the Ohio River, concerts by the Owensboro Symphony and performances at RiverPark Centre.

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