The downtown crossing of the Ohio River Bridges Project (Lincoln and Kennedy Bridges) may get all the attention, but it’s the East End Bridge that will significantly impact the landscape of the Greater Louisville economy. After over 30 years of discussion, the East End Bridge will be completed in October of this year (2016).
So specifically what will this mean for Louisville and Southern Indiana? It turns out quite a lot. At long last the new bridge will connect I-265 in Indiana to I-265 in Kentucky, opening up traffic and investments on both sides of the river.
Spanning an impressive 6,000 acres across Jeffersonville and Charlestown in Indiana, the River Ridge Commerce Center will be the driving force of economic growth that will send ripples across the entire region. Most Louisvillians probably haven’t taken the time to visit the burgeoning industrial business park yet, but once the bridge opens River Ridge will be hard to ignore.
Unrivaled in size, both regionally and across the nation, this industrial park has quickly caught the attention of globally recognized manufacturing and distribution companies alike. Huge tracts of available land and easy access to rail, roads, river, and runways make it an ideal location for businesses.
Companies like Amazon, BriovaRx, Tenneco, Bose, and Autoneum are setting up new facilities and creating thousands of new jobs. Distribution and logistics companies like Saddle Creek, A&R Logistics, and Mr. P’s Express are taking advantage of the immediate access to a highway system that allows businesses to reach 80% of the country’s population in a day’s drive. All of this is happening right now in an industrial park that is just 10% developed.
Once the East End Bridge opens it will give businesses within River Ridge an unprecedented ability to bypass downtown Louisville traffic on the way to the Louisville International Airport, UPS WorldPort, and other destinations abroad. Travel time to the UPS Worldport will be cut from 27 minutes to 15 minutes. In addition to faster travel time, UPS plans to offer guaranteed next-day delivery pick-up service until midnight to companies within River Ridge. One extra shipment per night can quickly add up to millions of dollars for e-commerce and pharmaceutical companies.
The Ford Kentucky Truck Plant (KTP) has recently announced an investment of over $1.3 billion to expand capacity and production lines in Louisville. Industrial space immediately surrounding KTP is often difficult to find, but with the opening of the East End Bridge just-in-time automotive suppliers can now take advantage of River Ridge’s location and meet the demands required of a Ford supplier.
As the area continues to develop, retailers and restaurants are rushing to cater to the growing number of employers and employees traveling back and forth across the East End Bridge. This boom of economic activity has certainly piqued interest and attention as developers position themselves to invest heavily in Class A facilities. Expect more Fortune 500 companies to give this area serious consideration.
The East End Bridge will fan the flames of interest in River Ridge, which will in turn attract new companies and create thousands of new jobs. Expect a flood of young workers and seasoned executives across the country to take a sudden interest in everything our region has to offer. New industrial facilities will give rise to new restaurants, retail, and housing opportunities. The economic injection that the bridge will bring will redefine the Greater Louisville area for years to come.