Bridges have names, but what about faces?

2015-11-02 01.22.49As we near the opening of the new Downtown bridge, one question lingers in the minds of many — what will it be called?

While that detail has yet to be determined, reporters did get a glimpse of what its face (or a couple of its many faces) look like when brothers Charles and Mitchell Draper chatted with the media last week.

Charles and Mitchell, from Shepherdsville, are just two of the more than 800 people working on the Downtown Crossing portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project. Charles and Mitchell Draper are both iron workers, both relatively young, and both crew foremen on the project. That’s an immense amount of responsibility considering this is one of the nation’s largest transportation projects. As of last month, the Draper brothers and other workers had assembled and placed 6,000 tons of structural steel.

And while the numbers are impressive, it was even more remarkable to hear the brothers talk about what it means to them and their personal legacies to be a part of the project.

Asked by reporters to describe the experience, one of the brothers likened it to the final scene in the The Lion King. You know, the one where Simba stands at the edge of Pride Rock, absorbing the realization that a new day had arrived. The brothers discussed sharing the experience with their wives and children – Mitchell’s son laughs when they talk via FaceTime because the Downtown Crossing bridge looks a lot like the one on his favorite cartoon – and they expressed gratitude toward their families for being understanding of the long hours and hectic schedule.

Jeremiah Littleton, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineer tasked with overseeing this portion of the project, praised work crews and marveled at the speed of progress.

“We’ve come along really quickly,” he told reporters. “We’re trying to get this thing finished as fast as we possibly can while keeping it safe and have the quality that you guys are paying for.”

The Draper brothers and their fellow workers have spent most of their waking hours for the past two-plus years seeing the bridge in-person and up-close. Now, the public will have the same opportunity as they ‘Walk the Bridge’ on December 5.

And when they do, hopefully they’ll see more than a gigantic structure made up of steel beams and concrete. Hopefully they’ll also see the sweat-streaked faces of the men and women who invested countless hours, days, months and years making the bridge a reality.

For coverage of the Draper brothers, and a view of the bridge from the sky, check out last week’s story from WDRB. Also, be sure to visit the ‘Walk the Bridge’ event page on Facebook HERE.

Ben Adkins
C2 Senior Strategist

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