Trails in Indiana

Big Four Bridge Is Finally Open.

May 20, 2014, the Indiana Department of Transportation completed its final inspections and turned over the control of the Big Four Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge to the City of Jeffersonville, Indiana.

May 21, 2014, it opened.

Changes in administration, design changes, administrative snafus, inter-agency coordination problems, delays in approvals and needed inspections set back the anxiously awaited the Indiana opening originally scheduled for summer of 2013.

The newly opened bridge will replace the soon closing Clarke Memorial Bridge as the only non-motorized connector between each state here over the Ohio.

Following the opening of the Louisville ramp, with its sweeping, curved approach and, dramatic lighting stanchions, more than 75,000 cyclists and over 500,000 visitors have visited the ramp since it opened February of 2013.

New restaurants have opened along the Indiana side of the bridge approach, and the opening has nearby residents wondering about the impact what the impact of the influx might be.
Anticipating an economic boon from the ramp opening, several food businesses have opened or expanded to capitalize on new crowds.

The ramp approach will also integrate with the Ohio River Greenway, a multiuse path which connects the cities of New Albany, Jeffersonville, and Clarksville along the Ohio, now with an easy link to Louisville.
A planned park and pavilion on the Jeffersonville side, currently under construction will allow for farmers markets and other events. Established restaurants and new businesses near the ramp hope especially to benefit from the influx of visitors the ramp will invite. On the Louisville side, by contrast, only one restaurant operates in the 85 acre Waterfront Park. (Article: Mario Vian)


March 6, 2014

Imagine a half a million pedestrians and 75,000 bicyclists at your front door and you cannot let them in. Imagine if you were a city or one of the businesses on the “other”side of the door just waiting and waiting for company to come. Then dream that this is only the tip of the iceberg of how many people will visit. And dream further that the first year user numbers can only double because, well the door opens both ways: north and south, Jeffersonville, IN to Louisville, KY; Indiana to Kentucky; Midwest States to Southern States. Oh, the places you will see, the people you will meet, the once-in-a-life-time experiences and new life-time habits, all waiting your arrival. So close!
Well the “door” should open in May of this year. The last lock on the door is the construction and installation of Americans with Disability (ADA) compliant handrails that are being manufactured for the project. The ADA compliant handrails are in addition to railings and allow universal access for the entire population.

Conventional wisdom dictates that if you design for the most vulnerable people---people in wheelchairs and 3-year old children----all other user-groups will benefit. Who could disagree with this concept of a win-win?

The fabrication of the handrails will take up to eight weeks and then installation is projected to take another three weeks. Now if Mother Nature opts to be kind to Indiana and Kentuky in May, we are all Good to Go!!!! See you on the river!




Dec. 20, 2013

Construction crews with Gohmann Construction Co. set a date to be complete with the construction of the actual ramp on Dec. 20, but that does not mean the ramp will be open to public.

Marty Sabla, with Parsons Brinckerhoff who took over as project manager in March, said the completion date does not take into account the lighting contract or the floodwall contract that still need to be completed.

Jeffersonville Redevelopment Director Rob Waiz said the floodwall is pretty much finished and an inspection on a cut-out in the wall is expected to take place Thursday.

But no one could offer a date on when the lighting will be complete on the Indiana side of the bridge ramp.

Earlier this month Jeffersonville City Engineer Andy Crouch said the project timeline and the time to complete that lighting work will spill into next year, but could not offer a definitive date for completion.

There have been several issues that have caused delays on the project, including design flaws that caused the deflection of one of the bridge’s tub girders, upon which the deck of the bridge sits. The delay that is still pushing the project’s completion date back was a change in the lighting design that is being installed on the Indiana side of the ramp. A change was approved in Jeffersonville to lighting that will be installed in the handrails on the bridge to better fit with the aesthetics of the area and reduce light pollution to the historic Rose Hill neighborhood nearby.

But several redevelopment commissioners showed their frustration calling the process “unacceptable” and “ridiculous” as the change in lighting was approved last year.

“We picked lighting in here a year ago,” said Redevelopment Commissioner Jack Vissing.

And by the time Gohmann is complete with its portion of the project, the ramp will be more than eight months behind schedule.

“When the lighting changed ... that created a situation where you have to be very accurate,” Sabla said.

He explained the measurements have to be precise to hit a two inch hole in a post, and the lighting manufacturer is waiting until all of the rails will be installed to measure for the lighting and handrails.

Waiz said it is a similar situation that occurred on the bridge with the manufacturing of the railing on the bridge ramp. The ramp and its curbs needed to be completed before the bridge railings could be measured for, fabricated off-site, shipped to Jeffersonville and installed.

The railing on the bridge has still yet to be completed.

“All the rail is in for the bridge, it’s on site, they just have to put it in,” Sabla said. “Next Monday, the next shipment of rail comes in for the stair tower. That will finish out the railing.”

Despite all of the delays, it is not expected that work will cease during the winter.

Crouch said that Hummel Electric Inc., the contractor for the lighting portion of the project, does plan on working through the winter to complete the ramp unless crews are forced to stop because of the weather.

With the delays in the lighting and handrails on the Big Four Bridge, Waiz said he is working to move forward with construction on what will surround the bridge ramp. Waiz said he has had discussions with the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to allow the city to be able to begin work on the southern portion of Big Four Station, near Market and Mulberry streets.

INDOT has given its approval for the city to work in the area, but the Federal Highway Administration has held off granting its approval because of concerns with a settlement reached with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Waiz said he is working with the Federal Highway Administration and the national and Indiana historic preservation offices to allow the city to begin work in the area.

Otherwise, the bridge will have to be closed again for a few weeks, after it’s completed to allow for the Big Four Landing construction, Waiz said.

Added to the potential wait for the Big Four Station construction is an additional request of $7,285 from The Estopinal Group for preparing multiple, phased plans for the project because the work could not be completed all at once.

The change order from The Estopinal Group was unanimously approved.


By BRADEN LAMMERS /  The News and Tribune


 Big Four Bridge You can't get there from here until 2014


The latest in a series of delays in the project to build Jeffersonville’s ramp to the Big Four Bridge pedestrian and bicycle pathway will likely push back the opening until next spring — a full year later than first promised, project officials said this week.

The original project completion date was in April, two months after Kentucky opened to much acclaim the bridge and ramp to Louisville’s Waterfront Park.

But while crowds have continued to converge on the Louisville side of the bridge, a host of problems have plagued construction of the Jeffersonville landing. As a result, target openings in April, June, August and November have all come and passed.

READ downtown Jeffersonville preparing for Big Four Bridge traffic.

Jeffersonville city engineer Andy Crouch said in an interview Monday that it’s too early to tell exactly when the long-anticipated ramp will be completed.

Gohmann Asphalt, which was awarded a $6.5 million contract for construction of the ramp, is waiting to get additional railing from its supplier, Crouch said.

And lighted handrails — electrical contractor Hummel Electric was awarded a $1.1 million contract in May — still must be attached to the railing. But the handrails can’t be manufactured until all the custom railing is installed, Crouch said.

Crouch said the total cost remains within its $10 million budget, which includes $8 million in federal transportation money and $2 million in Jeffersonville redevelopment money.

City and state officials have previous delays attributed to revisions to the ramp lighting plan, demolition of a home on Walnut Street in the ramp’s path, the discovery of sagging steel box girders that required workers to temporarily reinforce it and the replacement of a load-bearing assembly near the foot of the ramp.

“There were elements of design that didn’t work in the field,” said Harry McGinity, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the federal- and city-funded project.

McGinity walked the bridge last month when workers noticed a couple railing sections that weren’t fitting properly.

Officials said it’s probable the project will spill over until next spring.

Burleigh Law, an engineer with the project’s design firm HNTB, told the Jeffersonville redevelopment officials in June that the project was “99 percent complete,” with roughly three months left of ramp construction.

Messages seeking comment from Law Tuesday weren’t immediately returned.

“It’s frustrating to everyone that it’s not done yet,” said Monty Snelling, president of the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission.

Still, Snelling said he’d rather have the delay and make sure the work is done correctly than to have it open briefly then shut down because it wasn’t. It also gives the city more time to work on the new Big Four Station park that will surround the ramp.

Snelling and others point out Louisville’s ramp empties into a park, while Jeffersonville has to deal with a residential portion of its historic downtown.

Lynn Rhodea, a board member of the downtown revitalization organization Jeffersonville Main Street Inc., had been trying to time the opening of her new frozen yogurt business, Pearl Street Treats, in conjunction with the ramp’s November opening.

She now plans to open later this month or in early December, saying she’s understanding of but somewhat frustrated by the delay.

“I’d like to see it open, like yesterday,” Rhodea said.

Rhodea bought the house 1999 and lived there until she moved with her husband to eastern Jeffersonville. She’s rented the downtown house since but decided to start a business there when she excitedly learned it would be located in a house across from the foot of the Jeffersonville ramp.

“For too long, there’s been a division between Kentucky and Southern Indiana,” Rhodea said. “We want to be the first to welcome everybody.”

The bright side of the delay, Rhodea said, is it “has given us a little more time to get our finances together.”

Rhodea is not alone; there are two new restaurants and a brew pub planning to open in downtown Jeffersonville by early next year.

If patronage during the first nine months of the Big Four’s second existence is any indication, existing and new Jeffersonville business owners like Rhodea could see a big profit boost from thousands of additional walkers and bicyclists venturing into the historic downtown.

A study by Eco Counter showed there were roughly 4,500 bicyclists and 45,000 walkers on the Big Four span over a nine-day period in June.

And David Karem, president of Louisville’s Waterfront Development Corp., said Big Four traffic counts have continued to be “off the charts” since its February opening. He’s certain many of them are eager to get to the Indiana side of the Ohio River.

“There’s a lot of wonderful amenities in Jeffersonville that would probably enjoy the traffic,” Karem said.


Reporter Charlie White / The Courier-Journal