It’s been a while since I dissected the unpublicized and unknown components of the Ohio River Bridges Project (the really scary stuff is over here). There are a couple more over at 8664.org – here and here. This time, let’s take a look at how Interstate 65 interfaces with Southern Indiana between Clarksville and Jeffersonville.
First, take a look at the Second Street Bridge. Today, the bridge terminates at Court Avenue (the bottom arrow). After the Bridges Project (ORBP), however, you will be forced to take an off-ramp from the bridge which deposits you on an extended Sixth Street in Jeffersonville (the top arrow).
And, you will notice, when you get to the end, you’re buried under sixteen lanes of highway—and a double decker highway at that. No better way than to say “Welcome to the Sunny Side” than to be under so much concrete. The map below shows the situation in more detail. You can clearly see the flyover ramp that will be soaring at least 40 feet above the sidewalk level.
What’s more troubling, however, is that the Second Street Bridge has effectively been turned into an off-ramp for Interstate 65. If you look at the maps, it ceases to be a local access bridge and instead ties directly into the highway.
Next, imagine motorists barreling along an open straight-away at Interstate speeds and then onto the Second Street Bridge. There’s already a significant speeding problem already today and this is simply going to make it worse.
In the diagram below, the arrow is pointing to the merging area where the on-ramp from the street grid attaches to the bridge. Not only will this be dangerous for motorists, but potentially deadly for cyclists. The Second Street Bridge will turn into an expressway, and if the I-65 bridge is tolled and the 2nd Street bridge isn’t, you can imagine the problems that will ensue.
Next, lets take a closer look at what’s actually happening to one our most historic bridges: it’s being destroyed. It’s a little hard to see, but below is the current footprint of the Second Street Bridge overlaid on top of the ORBP plan. The arrow is pointing to two yellow dots representing the limestone pylons marking the entrance to the bridge.
Notice that the footprint of the now-a-highway-off-ramp bridge is over twice as wide as the existing bridge. What’s going to happen to the carved limestone pylons and the limestone guard rails by the sidewalk? And look at all the landscaped area to the west of the bridge that will be destroyed.
Everyone should by now be familiar with how bad the Spaghetti Junction is going to be at 24-or-so lanes running through the core of the city. But check out how badly Interstate 65 is going to tear apart Southern Indiana. Below is a larger map showing the highway headed for Louisville.
Those are lane counts that do not include space for shoulders or wasted swaths of land between ramps. Does Jeffersonville really need a 19-lane highway splitting it off from Clarksville?
When it comes down to it, the vast majority of the ORBP was never explained to the public and no one has any idea of how destructive this thing really is going to be. No one knows the extent to which it will change everything from Butchertown, to Slugger Field, to the Second Street Bridge.
Do we really want to cross the Second Street Bridge and land under 16 lanes of tangled highway? Do we really want to make cycling to Southern Indiana even more dangerous than it is today? Do we really want the Second Street Bridge to be an off-ramp for Interstate 65 and do we want to destroy the historic detailing that makes the bridge beautiful? How many lanes is enough?
This is out of control.