After waiting for more than a year to walk across the Ohio River from Louisville to Jeffersonville, the Indiana side of the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge is finally open after a year delay.
The work by the Indiana Department of Transportation was completed on Monday and officials gave control of the ramp to the city.
Reasons for the delay go in every direction. Some involve Indiana’s requirement for handrails on their side of the ramp. Reasonable. Some involve residents near the bridge complaining about the light scheme being disruptive. Part of the $8.5 million cost (and delay) of the Indiana side ramp came from finding a company that could do custom made lighted handrails.
The history of the Big Four Bridge is long and varied. Construction on the span began in 1888 and, ironically, was conceived and chartered in Jeffersonville. 47 workers lost their lives at various stages of the bridge building work.
The current bridge is a reworking of the original. Trains got heavier and so a new Big Four Bridge had to be built on the piers of the old one. When the Waterfront Development Corporation began construction for pedestrian and bicycle use, the deck had to be replaced.
So what happened to the railway ramps that lead up to and down from the bridge? Back in 1969, they were removed and sold as scrap leading to the nickname “Bridge That Goes Nowhere.” A paraphrase of that term was later appropriated for an Alaskan bridge that really didn’t go anywhere.
In 1988, the Ohio nearly lost the bridge entirely. Costa Rica wanted to buy it from Louisville and reassemble it in their country. At the time, the bridge was not municipally owned and so that plan was scrapped. Pun only partially intended.
So now, let’s get walking.
Photo: Tim Girton
Cover Photo: Nick Roberts, Speeddemon2.com