k and i bridge

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Mayor Craig Greenberg’s inaugural budget request includes money for Louisville to begin planning with New Albany, Ind., for a cycling and pedestrian path on the Kentucky & Indiana Bridge.

Greenberg said Thursday that the project would create an "amazing, only-in-Louisville loop experience along the Ohio River." The bridge, which connects the Portland neighborhood with southern Indiana, is about 4 1/2 miles west of the pedestrian Big Four Bridge at Waterfront Park.

The move comes after former Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration added the K&I proposal to a draft long-range plan of regional transportation priorities, aiming to open it to runners, walkers and cyclists by 2040. The estimated cost is $30 million, according to those estimates.

Bridge owner Norfolk Southern long has raised safety and other concerns in opposing the idea, which was first included in the plan in 2006. The bridge has decommissioned vehicle lanes adjacent to the train tracks that cars used until the late 1970s.

The railroad company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. A spokesman told WDRB News last year that it hadn’t changed its stance.

Greenberg did not directly say Thursday whether his administration has spoken with railroad officials. “I think there's no better time to reach out to Norfolk Southern than now, to ask them to partner with our state, with Indiana, with New Albany, with Louisville to make this amazing project a reality,” he said.

A similar bridge in Memphis “has people from all over the country wanting to experience that,” Greenberg said.

That span – the Big River Crossing – is owned by Union Pacific Railroad, which had been initially opposed to allowing people on the bridge but ultimately reached an agreement on adding a fence separating the pedestrian path from the rail line, a spokesman told WDRB News in 2016.

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan met with Greenberg on March 31 and discussed the K&I path among other issues, said Gahan spokesman Mike Hall. New Albany officials did not say whether city leaders have had any recent conversations with Norfolk Southern.

“This potential project could be wonderful in concept, but there are lots of safety concerns that must be addressed before it could move forward,” Gahan said in a statement.

Greater Louisville Inc., the metro area chamber of commerce, also included support for the K&I proposal in its legislative agenda for the Kentucky General Assembly earlier this year. Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, GLI’s chief executive officer, said in January that her organization continues to support the project.

Greenberg’s budget proposal includes $100,000 for the K&I planning and developing a master plan for a “reimagined” Belvedere downtown. The Metro Council plans to start holding budget hearings on May 8 and vote on the spending plan for the next fiscal year in late June.

This story may be updated.

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