Big Four Railroad Bridge now seen as option to get across river


by Doug Proffitt

Posted on July 23, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 23 at 9:52 PM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11)- There is a delicate balancing act underway high above the Ohio River.

More than 300 individual concrete slabs are picked up by a mobile crane, piece by piece, and carried into place and connected where trains used to roll.

The 117-year-old Big Four Railroad Bridge is being turned into a public walkway and bikeway. The railroad ties are now all gone.

We asked project manager Clinton Deckard how much weight, how many people can the bridge safely hold. What if there’s an emergency?

“We’ve reinforced this bridge to be able to hold the largest emergency vehicle that Louisville owns,” says Deckard.

Is it safe?  “250 tons of new steel, mostly support beams have been added to the superstructure.  10,000 new bolts have also replaced corroded bolts,” reports Deckard.

 It will also be a permanent alternative if Kentuckiana's other bridges or interstates are ever closed down again.

 “Walking back and forth. There's no quicker way. It’s a 15 minute walk from one end to the other,” says Deckard.

The Big Four was one of Louisville’s first downtown bridges. Huge trains once crossed the bridge into downtown Louisville, and people actually walked across it, next to the trains in 1896.

Now history is not only being saved, but re-used. As Deckard puts it, “It is the icon of Waterfront Park.”