Kentucky Labor Cabinet to partner with construction contractors to provide safe and healthful working environment during life of project

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear today announced the Kentucky Labor Cabinet has established a formal site-based construction partnership with  Walsh Construction Company and WVB East End Partners, which are building the Downtown Crossing and East End Crossing of the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges project. The project is Kentucky’s largest current transportation infrastructure improvement and is one of the biggest underway in the nation.

“Teamwork is essential for the success of an effort as big in scope as the Ohio River Bridges project,” said Gov. Beshear. “The overall goal is to improve safety, ease traffic congestion and connect roadways, which will stimulate the economy. I’m proud of the work involved in this project, from both the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and the Transportation Cabinet. This partnership will pay great dividends for people in the Commonwealth and Southern Indiana for decades to come.”

Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Larry Roberts today joined Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock and other local and company officials in Louisville for the official signing of the partnership agreement.

“The purpose of this partnership is to make the construction of these bridges and everything that goes with them as safe as possible for the hundreds of workers who will be involved,” said Secretary Roberts. “The Labor Cabinet is dedicated to protecting employees from injuries and illnesses, and this partnership will allow us to work closely with both of these construction teams to provide a workplace that is as safe as possible.”

The $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges project involves construction of two new bridges and their approaches, rehabilitation of the Interstate 65 John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge and reconstruction of the Kennedy Interchange, where I-65, I-64 and I-71 come together in downtown Louisville.

The project includes two crossings. The Downtown Crossing will connect downtown Louisville and Jeffersonville, Ind., running parallel to the existing Kennedy Bridge, and the East End Crossing will be located eight miles upstream and connect Prospect, Ky., and Utica, Ind. Both bridges are expected to be open to traffic in late 2016.

“When completed, this project will greatly improve cross-river mobility and highway safety in the greater Louisville area,” Secretary Hancock said. “Safety is key – safety for construction crews while the crossings are being built and safety for the drivers who will use them in years to come.”

Walsh Construction was awarded the construction contract for the Downtown Crossing, which will include more than 60 overpasses and bridges and more than 60 retaining walls. The bridge itself will be more than 2,000 feet long and will require nearly 16 million pounds of steel. 

“As a family company, the Walsh Group values the safety of all tradespeople on our projects just as if they are our own family members,” said Arik Quam, project manager for the Downtown Crossing. “Creating a culture of continual improvement in safety through training, safe work procedures, and worker engagement allows us to strive toward our overall goal that ‘No One Gets Hurt.’ We want to return our workers home to their families every day the same way they arrived at work that day. This partnership allows us to work collaboratively with the Labor Cabinet and organized labor on this project to further improve the working environment for all workers. We look forward to a partnership that will benefit the workers on the site, Walsh Construction, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, and the community with the safe completion of the project.”

The East End crossing includes a 2,500-foot cable-stayed bridge across the Ohio River, 20 additional bridges and infrastructure improvements around it, and a 1,700-foot traffic tunnel that will be under U.S. 42.

“WVB strives for a culture where zero incidents is not simply a goal, but where zero incidents is considered an expectation,” said Rob Morphonios, project director for WVB East End Partners. “The idea of WVB managers and workers having regular and open dialogue with representatives of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet – a genuine rapport of working together – throughout the construction process, is a big step in further enhancing the safety of our worksite and a big step in reaffirming the expectation of zero incidents.”

“As the former business manager/financial secretary for the IBEW 369, and having worked in the construction industry for nearly 50 years, I see the construction partnership program as a very positive step to a more safe and productive working environment,” said Rep. Larry Clark, of Louisville. “It protects the employee and benefits the employer.”

“The National Construction Alliance II is proud to be a part of the Ohio River Bridges project, and we look forward to helping make this as safe and efficient an effort as possible,” said Raymond J. Poupore, executive vice president of National Construction Alliance II. “We are dedicated to protecting the interests of our affiliated unions and the many world-class contractors who employ our more than 1 million members.”

“The Ohio River Bridges project is a prime example of partnership at work,” said Greg Davis, executive director, National Heavy and Highway Coalition. “With labor and management working together, this project will provide a better infrastructure for this entire region, better mobility and logistics, and, in the end, a stronger economy for everyone involved.”

For more information on the Ohio River Bridges, as well as high-resolution images, renderings and broadcast quality animation, visit http://kyinbridges.com/.




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