BRADENTON, Fla. — The new bi-state authority created by Kentucky and Indiana to develop a $4.1 billion finance plan to build new bridges over the Ohio River met for the first time Tuesday in an organizational session.

“We’re taking a historic step today,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who attended the meeting along with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, and Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. “The task before this authority is challenging but critically important,” Beshear continued. “The work done here will benefit both of our states for generations to come.”

The 14-member authority was created by the two states to create a finance plan to construct two new bridges between southern Indiana and northern Kentucky and to rebuild the Kennedy Interchange, where Interstates 64, 65 and 71 come together in downtown Louisville.

Kentucky’s share of the project is estimated to be 72%, or $2.92 billion, because it includes the reconstruction of the Louisville interchange now known as “spaghetti junction.” Indiana’s share is estimated to be 28%, or $1.15 billion.

Although Indiana has set aside its share of the cost using proceeds from leasing the Indiana Toll Road, the overall project has been stalled for years because Kentucky lacked its funding.

Last year, a Beshear-sponsored bill was passed by lawmakers creating a bi-state authority charged with devising a financing strategy. Kentucky also created another transportation agency that can sell bonds for its share of the project’s cost, as well as other major road projects in the state.

“This authority will lay the groundwork for a vastly improved transportation system in Louisville and Southern Indiana,” Abramson said.

Officials have already said they expect the finance plan to include tolls on the new facilities.

The Louisville-Southern Indiana Bridges Authority in its first meeting appointed an executive director and elected officers. The panel plans to meet again Wednesday in downtown Louisville.

Kentucky on Feb. 18 plans to sell $100 million of grant anticipation revenue vehicle bonds with most of the proceeds to be used to acquire and clear right of way approaches for one of the two proposed bridges and to acquire right of way for reconstruction of the Louisville interchange.

The syndicate is expected to be composed of Edward D. Jones & Co., First Kentucky Securities Corp., J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons LLC, Morgan Keegan & Co., PNC Capital Markets LLC, Ross, Sinclaire & Associates LLC, and Stifel Nicolaus & Co.

Kutak Rock LLP is bond counsel.

The Kentucky General Assembly has authorized the sale of up to $231 million worth of Garvees for the bridge project.

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