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Kentucky Demolishes First "Visual Step" in Bridges Project

Several buildings along Main Street across from Louisville Slugger Field have sat empty for more than a quarter of a century. Graffiti decorates the walls inside and outside of the complex, which state officials have deemed contaminated.The buildings also stand in the way of the Ohio River Bridges Project.Kentucky officials are now celebrating the first "visual step" that shows the $2.6 billion bridge project is moving forward, despite several bureaucratic processes that have yet to play out.Demolition began Monday on three of five buildings that make up the Vermont American Corporation complex along Main and Jackson streets.Gov. Steve Beshear joined city and state officials in announcing the beginning of a clean up expected to take up to 60 days and said the construction will clear room to widen lanes on the redesigned I-65 Bridge, which when opened, will only carry southbound traffic.“You’re going to see a redevelopment effort in this block that will involve some of the old historic buildings that are part of this complex and its going to add to the vibrancy that’s beginning to develop in this whole area,” Beshear said.State and city officials are in discussions with a potential buyer for the preserved buildings on the 1.5 acre tract, but they aren’t ready to release details.“The identity of the prospective buyer is confidential until negotiations have concluded,” said officials in a release.Congressman John Yarmuth said local leaders are trying to make the bridges project an integral part of downtown’s culture and part of accomplishing this is improving access for business.“The back ups caused by the work on the Kennedy Bridge and the ramps have made that need even more obvious," said Yarmuth.The cost to clean up contamination of the site will be paid for by previous property owner Robert Bosch Tool Corporation, officials said.Kentucky and Indiana are splitting the bridges project $2.6 billion cost. Indiana’s building the new East End Bridge and the commonwealth will build a new I-65 bridge and redesign Spaghetti Junction.The federal government hasn’t officially approved tolls, which are the primary funding mechanism for the project, but state officials are confident they’ll be approved later this year.In the meantime both states are moving forward with development. Next month, Indiana is expected to begin its first phase, developing a road extension to connect River Ridge Commerce Center to the future East End Bridge.