According to documents on the Ohio River Bridges Project ("ORBP") website, Louisville's first long-term transportation plan identified the East End Bridge "as an extremely important addition to the freeway system." That was in 1969, the year Ford opened the Ford Truck Plant on the Jefferson Freeway after being promised that the bridge would be completed. The East End Bridge which would complete the I-265 beltway was reaffirmed in subsequent long-term plans in 1978 and 1993. As the beltway converged, momentum for the Bridge escalated.
But in 1994, Downtown Development Corporation ("DDC"), a private, non-profit urban development organization released a study suggesting for the first time that a Downtown Bridge should be prioritized over an East End Bridge. The study concluded, incorrectly we believe, that the only way to correct Spaghetti Junction's traffic congestion was to rebuild it connected to a new Downtown Bridge.
River Fields, a land conservation organization with connections to DDC and funded primarily by landowners who live in close proximity to the path of the East End Bridge, forcefully supported a downtown bridge. Read River Fields 1994 Press Release, where they assert that Waterfront Park will be enhanced because more cars can be parked under the additional interstate ramps. The organization played an active roll in all public and state meetings related to the construction of a East End Bridge.
After decades of delays and obstruction, the community finally reached a political compromise to build both an East End and Downtown Bridge.
In Sept. 2003, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a Record of Decision (ROD) officially approving the construction of two new Ohio River bridges linking Louisville and Southern Indiana, and reconstructing the Kennedy Interchange (Spaghetti Junction) where I-65, I-71 and I-64 converge near downtown Louisville.
In the years since the ROD was signed, the cost of the "mega project" has ballooned from under to $2 Billion to over $4 Billion.