Ohio River Bridges – East End Crossing

The project’s objective is to connect the State of Kentucky to Indiana by road, which requires the construction (in this case, as part of a design-build mandate) of a 762-metre cable-stayed bridge over the Ohio River, development (again, design-build) of a 512-metre twin-tube tunnel to access the bridge from the Kentucky side, construction of 19 engineering structures, and upgrades to the roadway network and related infrastructure in order to make this route – a 12-km dual 2-lane highway – as modern and safe as possible. The Ohio River Bridges project is the first public-private partnership (PPP) contract signed by VINCI in the United States.


Regulations in Kentucky are not pro-PPP. That is why, as part of this project, Kentucky called on Indiana, one of the States with the most experience with this type of contract. To make this project a success, the two States turned to the expertise of the WALSH/VINCI/BILFINGER consortium.

Technical overview

With regard to section 4 (Kentucky), earthworks were carried out using the blast method in a semi-urban zone with local residents and existing road infrastructure in fairly close proximity. Blast operations had to be conducted with painstaking care to meet demanding constraints regarding vibration and noise. Moreover, road traffic could not be interrupted for more than 20 minutes during blast operations, thereby requiring the implementation of a precise and complex work schedule. As was the case for the roadway, the tunnel was excavated in the traditional manner using the blast method. Weak coverage and the uneven terrain made this activity a little tricker to carry out.
On the other side of the Ohio River (Section 6 – Indiana), an initial difficulty was encountered when we were required to maintain traffic flow (both road and rail) during operations to reconfigure the interchange, specifically, construction of 7 engineering structures and 3 roundabouts. Beyond the issues of logistics and construction work-user interfaces, the local population had to learn to use a roundabout – a first in the region.
As for the cable-stayed bridge over the Ohio River, the complexity of this structure with its 2 curved, 91-metre-high, variable-geometry pylons embedded in the river required us to mobilise experts to determine the most appropriate construction methods. Accordingly, we called on the technical directorship at VINCI CONSTRUCTION GRANDS PROJETS for support. Building this type of pylon was a real challenge for the project team. A model of a pylon base was built onshore to provide a better understanding of the interfaces involving steel reinforcements, formwork, guy-wire anchors, and other components. As a result, we were able to adjust certain design components and ensure a regular rhythm for the lifting operations.
The rear span (on the Indiana side) was achieved by incremental launching. Launching a 38-metre-wide metal deck, with constraints due to the great height in this section of the cable-stayed bridge, was a first in this region of the United States. This method, however, allowed us to deal with the fickle Ohio River whose tides and strong currents can regularly disrupt construction work.

At the licensor’s request, the infrastructure was built to last an exceptionally long time: 100 years. That is why special concrete was used for this bridge as well as more reinforcement and asphalt.


The Ohio River Bridges East-End Crossing Project is considered to be one of the most important roadway-upgrade project in the United States.
To carry out this project, we chose to partner with Walsh. The Walsh Group is known for its on-time performance and for maintaining a good working relationship both with unions and with the State of Indiana (the licensor on this project). Thanks to Walsh (and its reputation for timely project delivery), we were able to kick-start the project quickly and mobilise work teams, subcontractors, and materials effectively and efficiently. We contributed our specialised know-how, including the construction of cable-stayed bridges and underground works, and our expertise in managing PPP projects.
The use of optimisation techniques and implementation of a timetable 8 months shorter than the scheduling planned by the licensor allowed us to reduce the project’s overall cost. This project enabled us to meet multiple challenges and marks the beginning of a long-term partnership with Walsh.

Project participants

Indiana Finance Authority

Project management

Key figures

Implementation dates
December 2012 to October 2016   

Cable-stayed bridge
762 m

Twin-tube tunnel
512 m

Standard engineering structures


“Of course, on-time delivery is important, but achieving the required level of quality is just as essential since we have to manage maintenance during the life of the PPP contract.”


More information