Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced today the two states, with the City of Jeffersonville, will allocate $22 million to complete the Big Four Bridge, creating a pedestrian and bicycle path between Louisville and Jeffersonville.
The agreement will turn an unused rusting hulk into a new pathway that will provide connections from Van Dyke Park in downtown Jeffersonville to Waterfront Park in downtown Louisville.
Under the memorandum of agreement signed by both states, Indiana will spend up to $8 million and the City of Jeffersonville will provide $2 million in matching dollars to pay for construction of a ramp to the Big Four Bridge. Kentucky is pledging $12 million to replace the deck on the bridge and connect it to the spiral ramp that has been completed in Waterfront Park.
"We want pedestrians and bicyclists to have a better and safer way to cross the river than the downtown bridges, and we'll accomplish that goal with this plan," said Daniels.
This is the second bridge improvement project that Kentucky and Indiana have announced in recent months. Work is underway on the improved Milton-Madison Bridge across the Ohio River east of Louisville.
"We are building bridges between our two states - literally and figuratively - with this important agreement," said Beshear.
Jeffersonville is finalizing an environmental review of its proposed ramp, which is scheduled for completion by spring. Construction of the Indiana ramp could begin later this year.
The mayors of Jeffersonville and Louisville praised the agreement.
"I am grateful to both states and particularly Governor Daniels because Jeffersonville could not have done this on its own," said Jeffersonville Mayor Tom Galligan. "This is a big day for citizens on both sides of the river."
"The governors of Kentucky and Indiana are working together to make great things happen for Louisville and Southern Indiana," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said. "The Big Four will not only link both sides of the Ohio River, it helps bridge our communities together. We are one city, one community and one family, as I said in my inaugural address. Let me add a fourth element: We are one region. This project is proof of that."
The Big Four Bridge could reopen to pedestrians and cyclists in early 2013. The historic bridge, which was built for railroad traffic in 1895, was closed and its approaches removed in 1969.