Big Four delay frustrates citizens, enrages mayor

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by Karma Dickerson

WHAS11.com

Posted on April 18, 2014 at 5:58 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 18 at 6:02 PM

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) -- Most businesses wouldn’t be too happy being right next door to a construction zone but that construction is exactly why Lynn Rhodea opened her frozen yogurt shop.

“I want us, Pearl Street Treats to be the first warm welcoming, cheerful faces people see when they come across the bridge,” she said.

With that in mind, Rhodea has been working almost nonstop the last three weeks so her shop’s grand opening could coincide with the grand opening of the Jeffersonville side of the Big Four Bridge.

“They have ripped the rug out from underneath of us with the terrible news we have received yesterday,” Rhodea said.

The Jeffersonville approach of the pedestrian bridge will not open April 30 as promised. The Jeffersonville mayor may be taking the news even worse than business owners.  After learning Wednesday of yet another delay, Mayor Mike Moore initially vowed to open the ramp anyway.

“Told [INODT] the governor's going to have to send down some state police officers here to put me in handcuff to stop me,” Moore said.

He soon learned that would mean a halt to the project, and Jeffersonville paying back millions to the federal government.  Eighty percent of the project is federally funded; therefore INDOT has the final say about the project.

“They have failed and they are not here to deal with the consequences, INDOT has let us down, and they don't care,” Moore said.

The ramp connecting Jeffersonville to the rest of the bridge Louisville has been using, for more than a year, is mostly finished.  At issue is the lighted railing that won’t be finished until the end of May at the soonest.  Moore said he was initially promised the Jeffersonville approach could open during the final construction phase.

“That's why we were purchasing the barricades. The barricades were a $9,000 purchase which the state told us while the temporary lights were being installed you have to have these barricades.  Again, how can they say we never agreed to this when they’re the ones that set the terms,” Moore said.

But INDOT decided it wasn’t worth the risk.

“INDOT has safety and liability concerns about trying to bring children on bikes through an active construction zone,” INDOT Spokesperson Will Wingfield said.

Meanwhile, next door at Pearl Street Treats, Rhodea has refrigerators full of supplies she needs to use soon.

“Financially it’s a little frightening of how we’re going to hold on with a lack of business we were anticipating,” Rhodea said.

To her, and others that are worried, disappointed and just plain fed up, Moore can only say this.

“Tell ‘em I'm sorry,” he sighs.
 

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