In Louisville, we love our history and are committed to recycling and refurbishing old buildings, landmarks, and structures. One such structure, the Big Four Bridge, was rescued from the obscurity and is on its way to being a vital part of Waterfront Park and among major Louisville attractions.
From Railroad Bridge To The Bridge To Nowhere
Originally built to connect Louisville and Indiana back in 1895 when Louisville was a major commerce center, the bridge was mainly used as a railroad bridge for the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railway, aka the "Big Four Railroad." Ultimately the railroad became part of the New York Central Railroad, which was swallowed up by Penn Central in 1968. The Bridge was closed down and the approach spans on both the Kentucky and Indiana side were dismantled and sold for scrap, while traffic was rerouted to 14th St.
It became the "Bridge That Goes Nowhere,â€ and mainly worked on its rusty tan, as one blogger commented. In the 1980s, local radio station lit the remains up to cleverly promote a â€œBridge the Gapâ€ fundraiser for the needy. The president of Costa Rica tried to buy it for disassembly and reconstruction in his native land.
New Life For The Bridge
Finally, in the 1990s, the bridge was seen as a perfect pedestrian walkway and cycling path for Louisville Waterfront Park and the ongoing waterfront revitalization. Both Kentucky and Indiana applied for federal grants in solicited private money to fund repairing the structure, lighting it, and building ramps to access it. In February 2013, the Louisville entryway was open, with the Jeffersonville, Indiana side planned to open this summer.
Since its opening, the Big Four Bridge has been packed with cyclists, pedestrians, and dogs on leashes who get their exercise and take in a beautiful view of downtown Louisville. Only emergency and service vehicles are allowed to drive on the bridge. Solid lines indicate the proper place for walkers, joggers, and bikers to position themselves as they cross. There are benches positioned along the way about every 75 feet and speakers installed to amplify music, especially near the middle of the bridge. Food and beverage vendors are likely to pop up as the weather gets warmer.
Louisvilleâ€™s Place To Be
Already, the bridge has been the site for local events. One of the first of these was the Responsible Rally For Rover on March 24, 2013, which raised awareness about the need for dog owners to pick up poop. Even though Louisville loves the past will, no one wants the bridge to resemble the old days when horse manure in other droppings littered the streets. If residents do not stop using the bridge as a â€œpoo-desrianâ€ walkway, the city may be forced to ban pets.
The bridge will be a great observation point for viewing the city and will play a major role in upcoming events. Unfortunately, the bridge will be closed for Thunder Over Louisville, the major fireworks fest that sets off the Derby Festival due to federal air show regulations. Except for when it is icy, the bridge will be open 24/7 to the delight who want to take the mile-long walk to Indiana and back.