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Light-up Handrail for the Bridge That Went Nowhere

Posted on Mon July 14th 2014 by Dan

An approach ramp on a bridge that connects the US states of Indiana and Kentucky has been fitted with a brand new handrail that will light up at night, helping those who use it to see their way across when it’s dark.

The Big Four Bridge connects Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana, spanning the Ohio River. It was completed in 1895 and once carried the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, which is from where the “Big Four” name is derived.

But after the railway line closed in 1969, and the approach ramps removed, the bridge lay dormant for decades, earning it the nickname “The Bridge That Goes Nowhere”. Lumbered with a bridge that served absolutely no purpose and was inaccessible on foot or by transport, the state governments of Indiana and Kentucky, along with the city of Jeffersonville, decided to take action to bring the structure back into use.

A combined $22 million was pledged to convert the former railway bridge into a route suitable for pedestrians and cyclists that would connect the cities and states. New staircases were constructed, allowing people to walk across the bridge for the first time. The new construction was dependent on plans meeting the federal funding requirements, including criteria set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This meant creating wheelchair-friendly access ramps on both sides of the bridge and this is where the light-up handrails are being built.

The handrail’s components were made in a factory in Wisconsin and then transported over 300 miles to the bridge. Once there, work began on the Indiana ramp, whose maintenance will be the responsibility of the City of Jeffersonville. Specific lighting has been chosen for the ramp’s handrails, so as not to cause light pollution for nearby residential areas.

The straight railings were installed first, with the curved sections which take longer to produce, being fitted a few weeks later. The ramp was completed at the end of May, making the Big Four Bridge, the second pedestrian crossing over the river between Jeffersonville and Louisville, after the nearby George Clark Memorial Bridge.

Written by David Chapman of UK Stair Parts.