Kentucky has begun the search for contractors interested in designing and building its portion of the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project.

The project, estimated to cost $1.3 billion, includes building a new downtown Louisville bridge, a modernized interchange and other improvements.

A notice of intent released Monday invites contractors to a pre-bid meeting March 1. The state expects to issue a request for qualifications from contractors interested in the projects followed by a request for proposals.

“We are determined to select a proven team of professionals that will bring innovative approaches to reduce costs, speed construction and deliver a reliable transportation system that will serve citizens of Kentucky and Indiana for decades to come,” said Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock.

Kentucky is moving ahead with a traditional design-build approach and plans to use federal funds and toll-revenue bonds to finance most of it.

Public Financial Management Inc. is the state’s financial advisor.

The long-planned Ohio River project is being done in conjunction with Indiana, which also has about $1.3 billion of projects to finance and construct.

Indiana has begun the procurement process and plans to use a public-private partnership to design, build, finance, build and maintain its projects. KPMG LLP is Indiana’s financial advisor.

An umbrella agency created by both states, the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority, is expected to meet in several weeks to review the draft finance plan for the entire project.

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