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Category Archives: Waterfront

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Work To Complete Big Four Bridge Underway

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by Branden Klayko.
Big Four Bridge today (Courtesy @Downtown_Lou/Twitter)

Big Four Bridge today (Courtesy @Downtown_Lou/Twitter)

Now that the 60-foot-tall elliptical spiraling ramp up to the top of the Big Four Bridge in Waterfront Park has been completed for some time, officials are ready to begin work on the next phase of the bike and pedestrian bridge conversion.

More after the jump.

Big Four Bridge Will Offer A Big View

Friday, November 27, 2009 by Branden Klayko.
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Historic view of the Big Four Bridge (courtesy R.D. Schooling)

Historic view of the Big Four Bridge (courtesy R.D. Schooling)

Now that the elliptical ramp up to the Big Four Bridge has been set into place sans its concrete walkway, Doug Proffitt of Whas11 took a trip up to the top platform to check out what must be one of the best views in Louisville.  I can’t wait to check it out myself.  See the video below which offers an up-close view of construction along with views of local landmarks.

Up above, you can see the bridge when trains still rolled between Louisville and Jeffersonville.  You might note the wooden platform to the left of the tracks which allowed foot connection over the bridge 100 years ago.  See the modern view in the video that’s much more dilapidated.

Also, for the sake of accuracy, a few claims in the video fall victim to the famous Louisville superlative.  The Big Four isn’t unique in the country as the city claims.  Converting rail bridges to pedestrian bridges is fairly common by now (although our spiral ramp is probably unique).  Check out this example in Chattanooga.  It’s also not the longest, although it will be really long at 2,525 feet excluding the ramps.  A new pedestrian bridge in New York called the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge spans 6,767 feet, only slightly longer (more here and here).

[ Editor's note: The Whas11 video appears not to be embedding properly.  Check over on their website for the video if it doesn't appear below. ]

Filed Under:  Waterfront,

Snapshot: Pedestrian Bridge Spiral Airborne

Thursday, November 12, 2009 by Branden Klayko.
Big Four Bridge Construction (Photo courtesy Steve Wiser)

Big Four Bridge Construction (Photo courtesy Steve Wiser)

Thanks to local architect Steve Wiser for sending in these photos of the Big Four pedestrian and bike bridge in Waterfront Park.  Now that the elliptical spiral is completely airborne, it’s much easier to imagine taking a walk or ride to Jeffersonville in peace without using the Clark Bridge with its narrow sidewalks and speeding trucks.  The next step involves installing a concrete deck on top of the steel structure, which it looks like has begun on part of the spiral.

Big Four Bridge Construction (Photo courtesy Steve Wiser)

Big Four Bridge Construction (Photo courtesy Steve Wiser)

Filed Under:  Waterfront,

Ramping Up Construction At The Big Four Bridge

Friday, October 30, 2009 by Branden Klayko.
Big Four Bridge Construction Site

Big Four Bridge Construction Site

About two weeks ago, I had a chance to tour the construction site at the Big Four Bridge and snap a few photos of construction progress at the final phase of Waterfront Park.  Work has been moving along steadily, weather permitting, since these photos were taken, and additional pieces of the ramp structure have been lifted into place.

The day of my tour was cold and rainy, meaning the site was considerably muddy, but the sight of massive curving beams that form the approach to the pedestrian and bicycle crossing over the Ohio River to Jeffersonville was worth it.

An initial earthen mound forms the beginning of the elliptical spiral that ramps 60 feet into the air to meet the Big Four Bridge.  While the site was nearly abandoned on my visit, on a less rainy day, 25 to 50 workers would be seen preparing sections of the ramp.

Each of the four ramp sections and columns was manufactured in Tampa, Florida of steel that forms a naturally rusty finish meant to blend with the patina of the 1890s-era bridge.  The elliptical shape presented a challenge over what could have been a typical circular ramp.  Instead of one radius to conform to, the ramp contains seven radii.

Ramp sections consist of two parallel structural channels that are accessible for maintenance and repair work.  Small portals at each end will allow access into the dark and confined spaces.  Three cranes on site capable of lifting 100, 160, and 250 tons respectively have been used to hoist the steel into the air.  Each section rests on rubber pads on the piers and a central column will be filled with concrete to further secure the ramp.

A concrete deck wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles will be poured on top of the steel structure leading to the bridge.  A 60-foot diameter platform sits at the base of the bridge and is sure to offer amazing views of the surrounding area when complete.

When funds are available, two I-beams will be installed on the Big Four Bridge and a concrete deck poured on top.  Existing wooden railroad ties and debris must first be cleared, but much has already been heavily damaged or destroyed in a fire on the bridge last year.  Stimulus funds are being sought to help pay for the Big Four decking and more details will be available in December.

You may also recall two proposals for installations on the Big Four Bridge site.  One plan calls for a $500,000 pavillion nestled under the bridge approach designed by architects DeLeon & Primmer of Shelby Street.  The pavilion is meant to draw attention to and honor the Hill sisters who wrote “Happy Birthday to You.”  At IdeaFestival 2008, Arne Quinze of Belgium proposed an intricate wooden lattice “cloud” weaving through the bridge over the Ohio River.  The plan called for interpretive stations detailing local history and even solar panels that would allow the cloud to glow and play music.

Click through for more photos of the Big Four construction site.

Ed Hamilton To Discuss Lincoln Memorial At Free Events

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 by Branden Klayko.
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Lincoln Memorial at Waterfront Park

Lincoln Memorial at Waterfront Park

While I was in town last week, I had the chance to check out the completed Lincoln Memorial in Waterfront Park for the first time (you may remember our tour of the construction site from October 2008).  On my Saturday visit, a group of several out-of-towners and a few locals were wandering around browsing the bronze bas reliefs and larger-than-life statue of Abraham Lincoln, both creations of local sculptor Ed Hamilton.

Now, the Waterfront Development Corporation is hosting two free lunchtime events with Hamilton to discuss the artwork at the memorial.  The first event is Wednesday, October 21 (that’s today!) from noon until 1:00 and a second time is scheduled for Saturday, October 24 from noon until 1:00.

Hopefully some of you can make it despite the short notice.  Lunch can be purchased at the nearby Stop Lite Liquors Cafe (fare includes bbq sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches and chili) or you can bring your own.  Here are the details from the Waterfront Development Coporation:

“The Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation is proud to present an intimate lunchtime event with Ed Hamilton.   Ed will speak about his experience creating the artwork that is the focal point of the Lincoln Memorial.  Guests will have an opportunity for questions and answers with Ed.  The two events are free and open to the public.  Guests can either use the amphitheater seating or bring blankets and lawn chairs.

“The Lincoln Memorial at Waterfront Park was dedicated on June 4, 2009 and includes Hamilton’s sculpture of Lincoln as its centerpiece.  The site, framed by an amphitheater, also features four bas reliefs that tell the story of Lincoln’s life-long ties to Kentucky.  The Memorial is part of Kentucky’s two-year bicentennial celebration of Lincoln’s birth.

“The 12 ft. sculpture shows a young Lincoln sitting on a rock, holding a book and looking out over the Ohio River, where he watched slaves being loaded onto riverboats almost 200 years ago. Lincoln always remembered this, and in later years documented his personal feelings of abhorrence at the sight in a letter to his good friend Joshua Speed.  Lincoln is perhaps best known for his visionary leadership when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

“The four bas reliefs are mounted on granite panels placed along the walkway that leads into the amphitheater, which has granite seating engraved with Lincoln quotes.  Each panel includes a text explanation of the scene depicted. One of the bas reliefs portrays an image of slaves shackled together, just as Lincoln witnessed them on the riverboat.”

Click through for more photos of the Lincoln Memorial.

Striking Visions Of Louisville’s Future Within Our Grasp

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 by Broken Sidewalk.
Riverfront Boulevard west fron near 6th Street

Riverfront Boulevard west from near 6th Street

These renderings are simply amazing.  The folks over at released today a few jazzed up renderings at what’s possible along Louisville’s waterfront.  There’s also a video fly-by all through downtown and along the waterfront detailing just how great life without the 7th Least Wanted Highway slicing between the city and its river can be.  It’s already smothering the grass at the Great Lawn and we all should know how destructive the junction will be to Downtown, but these beautiful visuals should help everyone realize what great potential there really is along Louisville’s waterfront.  Perhaps most dramatic are the views of Shippingport and the areas immediately west of Downtown.  The potential for urban growth and real city life almost feels graspable from the above view.  As anyone who has walked the stretch of RiverWalk over in this area, this is quite an unmistakable transformation.  And the numbers back the plan up, too.  Here are a few of the most dramatic stats kept by

Consider the following:

The East End Bridge is supported by more than a 2 to 1 margin over a Downtown Bridge.
FrederickPolls, January 2008, 500 Jefferson County Voters

The East End Bridge will divert more than 30,000 cars per day from the Kennedy Bridge by 2025.
Ohio River Bridges Project, Environmental Impact Statement, 2003

The Bridges Project will widen I-64 through Cherokee Park.
KYTC Kennedy Interchange Area Study, November 2008

The “8664″ alternative provides 99% of the “system-wide performance” of the Bridges Project.
KYTC Kennedy Interchange Area Study, November 2008

These images speak louder than words, so sit back, watch the video, and ponder a stroll along Louisville’s future Waterfront Boulevard on a warm Spring morning.  And then go to to find out how you can take action to realize a better Possibility City.

(Make sure you click through below to see the rest.)

Click through for more amazing renderings of our reclaimed Louisville.

Flock of Finns Migrates Back To Waterfront Park

Thursday, February 12, 2009 by Broken Sidewalk.
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Flock of Finns returns to Waterfront Park

Flock of Finns returns to Waterfront Park

A collection of colorful birds, ducks, and roosters by folk-artist Marvin Finn (1913-2007) arrived back at Waterfront Park today near the corner of Preston and Witherspoon Streets.  The public art display of 29 birds had been undergoing restoration involving repairing chipped paint.  The total project cost $5,000 and was funded by an endowment set up for the art collection.  While individually the birds are quite small, interacting with the flock en masse is quite a whimsical experience, and we’re glad to see the sculptures back in their rightful home.

Paving Waterfront Park: Highway killing the Great Lawn

Thursday, February 12, 2009 by Broken Sidewalk.
Welcome To Louisville: Gaze Upon Our Beautiful Skyline

Welcome To Louisville: Gaze Upon Our Beautiful Skyline

Waterfront Park’s Great Lawn is losing a couple hundred square feet of grass underneath Interstate 64.  But first, let’s take a moment to gaze upon Louisville’s beautiful skyline.  It’s all there in the photo above.  Waterfront Park Place is on the left, the Aegon Tower and National City Tower looking elegant in the center, and the Galt House and Arena site on the right.  Not many cities can boast a skyline that’s well… a line.  And for that, Louisville should be proud.  We should include this view of our skyline from our beautiful Waterfront Park in our marketing endeavors.  Let’s make some post cards to send to all our friend’s to tell them how swell a place this is.  We may not have power, but at least we can drive right through one of America’s best parks.  And our skyline is growing, too!  If we do ever build Museum Plaza, it will interrupt the clean lines of our city, so we’re expanding the skyline by about 75 feet.  That’s roughly to the shadow line in the photo, we estimate.  That should be enough to hide even the tallest building anyone can dream up. wants to tear down our beloved skyline.  They even found some scientists over at Scientific American to back up their story with quotes like: “closing a highway–that is, reducing network capacity–improves the system’s effectiveness.”  What are they thinking?  Where else can we go for shade on a sunny day?  Trees are a thing of the past; nothing says Welcome to Louisville like the harsh clanging of metal and guzzling of big-rigs.  Here’s more from the Scientific American article:

“Conventional traffic engineering assumes that given no increase in vehicles, more roads mean less congestion. So when planners in Seoul tore down a six-lane highway a few years ago and replaced it with a five-mile-long park, many transportation professionals were surprised to learn that the city’s traffic flow had actually improved, instead of worsening. “People were freaking out,” recalls Anna Nagurney, a researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who studies computer and transportation networks. “It was like an inverse of Braess’s paradox.””

The article goes on and is well worth a read, but we’ve got a dying Waterfront Park on our hands as it seems that Interstate 64 isn’t a fan of grass.  We first noticed the dirt being moved under the highway a couple weeks ago, but today the ground was being leveled to accept synthetic stone pavers and formwork for a new concrete curb set up.  The area was perpetually muddy as grass couldn’t fully take root in the shadow of the elevated road.  Torrential ponding of water runoff from the highway also causes erosion problems in the area.  Now, we don’t have to worry about the grass… because there won’t be any.  A few new trees were planted, though, to catch the meager rays of sun that penetrate through the concrete.

Click through to see the Great Lawn paving site.

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