News and Tribune

Floyd County

June 5, 2010

Big Four funding in a state of flux

Kentucky finds money from legislature while Indiana and Jeffersonville in search of cash for pedestrian crossing

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Financing has come through for the Big Four Bridge Project, allowing Kentucky to pay for the completion of its access ramp and resurfacing of a former railroad bridge spanning the Ohio River.

The Kentucky General Assembly approved $12 million in funds to complete its portion of the pedestrian crossing over the Ohio River, but Indiana is still without money to complete its access ramp. The ramp approach to Kentucky’s side has taken shape at Louisville’s Waterfront Park, while Indiana’s ramp to the bridge is still in the planning stage.

Funding for the Indiana portion of the bridge is being sought through several federal and state transportation or enhancement grants, said Jeffersonville Mayor Tom Galligan. One option that has become a possibility for the state is siphoning off funds the Indiana Department of Transportation has dedicated to the Ohio River Bridges Project.

While an actual transfer of funds from one project to the other is not possible, if funds are secured for the Big Four Bridge, pedestrian access could be petitioned for removal from the scope of the Ohio River Bridges Project because the cross-river mobility needs will have been met elsewhere, said Gary Valentine, project manager for the Ohio River Bridges project.

Removal of a 17-foot pedestrian and bicycle path on the proposed Downtown Interstate 65 Bridge would save the Ohio River Bridges project roughly $25 million, Valentine said.

The I-65 bridge with the pedestrian walkway included is estimated to cost $453.6 million and estimated costs for Jeffersonville’s portion of the Big Four Bridge Project are about $10 million to $12 million.

“I think it is a real possibility,” said Kerry Stemler, co-chairman of the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority, in being able to secure financing to complete the Big Four Bridge Project and cut the costs off the proposed I-65 bridge. “I think it has real potential and merit. It will be explored and it did have a big cost savings for the [Ohio River Bridges] project.”

As far as progress from the Indiana side of the proposed pedestrian crossing, Galligan said the city has acquired about half of the parcels it needs for right-of-way and is still working on securing the remainder of land.

The plans for construction also are nearly complete.

“Our prints will be done for construction in October,” Galligan said. “We think we’ll be on target,” he said referring to a timeline of 2012 for completion, at the latest.

But a problem remains if Jeffersonville is unable to secure grant funding to complete the project.

“If the grants don’t come through, we’re going to hold the project,” Galligan said. “We’ll look to anything we can get, [but] the city can’t front that [money] itself.”

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