Big Four Bridge Approach Ramp Environmental Assessment
In the late 1960s, the Big Four Railroad Bridge fell into disuse and disrepair. Eventually, the ramps leading to the bridge were demolished and today, only footers remain of the once massive structures. On the Jeffersonville, Indiana side, the bridge stops about 54 feet aboveground, ending in mid-air. On the Louisville, Kentucky side, the ramps were also demolished but a new pedestrian ramp was built to connect the bridge to the Waterfront Park.
Jeffersonville’s goal was to also connect the bridge so pedestrians and bike traffic could travel from the Ohio River Greenway – on the Indiana side – to Louisville’s park system. Lochmueller Group (Lochgroup) completed an Environmental Assessment (EA). Three main ramp alternatives were identified and reviewed. The preferred concept focused on the historic aspect of the bridge, incorporating the colors, forms, patterns, and materials of the bridge into the ramp design.
The new 1,236-foot-long, 21-foot-wide ramp is a rustic brown, similar to the color of the Big Four Bridge. Railing on the approach ramp matches the railing on the historic bridge.
One of the more significant environmental impacts of the ramp project was to the Old Jeffersonville Historic District. The historic district encompasses a large area where the Big Four Bridge comes into Jeffersonville, so completely avoiding it would be difficult. The project required the removal of the house at 225 West Chestnut Street. Lochgroup assisted the city and Federal Highway Administration during Section 106 consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer and local historic organizations. Measures were developed to mitigate for the adverse effect to the Old Jeffersonville Historic District. These included interpretive signage, landscaping within the historic district, and the historic bridge approach footers being retained.