Big Four Bridge today (Courtesy @Downtown_Lou/Twitter)
Big Four Bridge today (Courtesy @Downtown_Lou/Twitter)
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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.

The Big Four Bridge in 1906 (Broken Sidewalk)
The Big Four Bridge in 1906. (Broken Sidewalk)

While the Southern Indiana approach must still be built, work is about to begin on installing a concrete deck on top of the 1890s-era bridge. Work involves clearing the existing rotting wood deck, installing two I-beams across the length of the bridge, and pouring a concrete deck on top. It may not be fancy, but it will get you across the river.

While it won’t contain crazy 1960s condos or equally crazy modern sculpture, and it’s not looking good for a happy birthday pavilion underneath the ramp (and while the bridge will not be the longest in the country as officials are wont to claim), the bridge will offer a vitally needed pedestrian and bike link between Louisville and Southern Indiana. Currently, the only option for biking or walking across the Ohio River involves using the Clark Memorial/2nd Street Bridge with the speeding traffic that frequents it.

“This connection between our two communities will be an invaluable amenity for the whole region and will be a springboard for even more improvements in downtown Jeffersonville,” said Tom Galligan, Mayor of Jeffersonville, in a statement.

A total of $22 million has been committed for completing the project from Kentucky, Indiana, and Jeffersonville, including $12 million for replacing the deck contributed from Kentucky.

With the popularity of New York’s High Line park and similar projects proposed across the country, anyone have any ideas on creating a truly unique space on top of the bridge that could fit with the work already planned?

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Branden Klayko

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

4 COMMENTS

  1. I suppose we were ahead of our time but a group of teenagers living in Butchertown found ways to get onto this bridge…either on the grass berms that supported the tracts and were further away from the river, or a ladder on Story Avenue near what was the Dew Drop Inn. Our goal was two-fold, several of us had pigeon coops (not sure why now) and the bridge was a great place to catch pigeons, and several others, after climbing down in Jeff, met some girls in a small restaurant called The Trolley (don’t remember but I think it was actually in a trolley car. So walking over the bridge became somewhat routine. The non-routine part included railroad detectives who took a dim view of our commute, and, of course, trains. If a train came the “safe” thing to do was to drop between the ties onto one of the concrete pillars supporting the bridge until the train had passed.
    This all happened in the 1950s when I had a lot fewer years on me and obviously a WHOLE lot less sense.

  2. So stoked about this. Riding my bike across Second Street is scary, but I do love “The Sunny Side.” Thanks to all who are making this possible. This will serve Louisville and Southern Indiana really well, and give people alternatives to making the trip via car. Finally, a bridge I can support! 😀

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