Louisville, KY (WDRB News) -- After years of planning and work , people will finally be allowed to walk up to the Big Four Bridge tomorrow. But it's just for one day.
Construction equipment is being assembled at the site and work at restoring the bridge will get underway in a matter of days.
The new ramp up to the bridge was completed about a year ago. But on Wednesday Governor Steve Beshear will hold a news conference at the site to mark the start of the restoration of the bridge deck. The public is invited to attend Wednesday's news conference.
"It's the official groundbreaking for the start of the transformation of this wonderful railroad bridge into a pedestrian/bicycle bridge," says the executive director of the Waterfront Development Corporation, David Karem.
Karem took photographer Neil Johnson and me on a tour up to the top of the ramp where we could view the deck of the historic bridge which began serving rail traffic in 1895 until the 1960's.
The overgrown grass and rotting railroad ties will be replaced by a steel and concrete deck with four-feet high railings.
"The bridge itself is about a half mile long, this ramp is about a quarter-mile and then on the Indiana side another quarter mile so the whole thing is about a mile when its done," says Karem.
The Kentucky Legislature has approved $12 million for the Kentucky portion of the project. Indiana will spend another $10 million to build a ramp on the opposite side of the river.
From the top of the ramp the views of the downtown skyline, Waterfront Park, and the Ohio River are stunning.
The restored bridge will be the final piece of the puzzle for Waterfront Park. Says Karem, "It's the most anticipated piece of the park. Every presentation that we've done, people say, 'When can I get up on the bridge, I want to walk on the bridge?'"
Karem says the restored bridge will be a catalyst for further economic development. "You know all the amenities that exist in downtown Louisville that draw people back and forth, there is no question that it will soon be a boon to both sides of the river," adds Karem.
The restoration should be completed in about a year and a half, according to Karem.