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The Big Four Bridge is a New Louisville Attraction

Updated on March 8, 2013

The Big Four Bridge Reborn!

It has been more than 40 years since the last trains rumbled across the Big Four Bridge in Louisville Kentucky. The train tracks leading to this rusty old rail bridge that crosses the Ohio River have been gone for decades. With no way on or off of the bridge, it has been known as the 'bridge to no where'.

That all changed on February 7, 2013. The City of Louisville opened access for the Big Four Bridge to the public, and it has been reborn as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge.

The completion of this 22 million dollar project has been eagerly anticipated by the Louisville community. Hundreds of people waited with their bikes, dogs, and cameras to be the first to experience its opening (and I was fortunate enough to be one of them)!

(Image Credit to Cameron Miquelon - Licensed via Creative Commons with Attribution)

The History of the Big Four Bridge

The Big Four Bridge is a landmark known by all Louisvillians, but few can ever recall when it was used to carry train traffic across the Ohio River. The debate over what to do with the once inoperable bridge has been the story of news headlines over the years.

Some people suggested that it should be torn down. I can ever recall a time when a local company was investigating turning the bridge into apartment buildings (what a unique idea and an incredible view that would have been). In the late 1980s, the country of Costa Rica was entertaining the idea of disassembling the bridge and moving it to Central America. None of these ever happened.

Here is a timeline history of the Big Four Bridge:

  • 1895 - Bridge Completed. The bridge was named the Big Four after the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railway Company. Forty-two workers died during the construction of this bridge, including 22 that died in an 1893 collapse that was one of the nation's worst bridge disasters of the era.
  • 1929 - Bridge Rebuilt and enlarged.
  • 1930's - The bridge is heavily utilized as a major thoroughfare for interurban train traffic.
  • Late 1960's - Early 1970's - The last train crosses the bridge, and work is completed to remove the approach tracks that led to the bridge.
  • 1970's - 1980's - Many ideas to develop the bridge are entertained, but none come to fruition. The bridge is purchased at public auction by the Bridge the Gap charity.
  • 1991 - During a major plan to develop the Waterfront Park area, the plan is created to develop the Big Four Bridge as a walkway across the Ohio River.
  • 2005 - The Waterfront Development Corporation in Louisville takes title to the Big Four Bridge.
  • 2010 - Work is completed on a $6.8 million spiral ramp on the Kentucky side of the river, leading up to the Big Four Bridge. Funding of $12 million is approved by Kentucky legislature to redo the deck of the bridge.
  • 2011 - On February 15th, Kentucky and Indiana announce that they will spend $22 million to complete the bridge's conversion into a walking and biking bridge. While the Kentucky side is complete, the Indiana access will not be completed until the Summer of 2013.
  • 2013 - February 7th - The Big Four walking bridge opens, and I am among the first to walk across it!

(Image Credit to Bill Alden - Licensed via Creative Commons with Attribution)

Video of the Big Four Bridge Opening

Check out this great video of the Big Four Bridge opening. Many people turned out to enjoy the opening and be the first to walk across it. Walkers and dogs, bikes, and even some old-time bicycles spent time on the bridge this day.

If you ever find yourself in Louisville, KY you must make some time to stop by the Big Four Bridge and take a walk across it yourself!

So What Does This Mean For Louisville?

Why Invest Millions on this Project?

The completion of the Big Four Walking Bridge in Louisville really helps to bring together an effort to develop the waterfront area that has spanned decades. Parks and green areas now sit in areas that were once occupied by unsightly industrial areas. The renovation of the Big Four Bridge is the most anticipated attraction since the city began converting its old industrial waterfront into a downtown river park.

It is a definite gem that allows people to take in the view of the city and the waterfront from a completely different perspective. There are outdoor speakers piping music to various locations on the bridge, and numerous benches where people can relax and socialize. City officials are in the process of raising an additional $2 million dollars for decorative lighting to make the Big Four Bridge an even more attractive jewel adorning the city skyline.

Aside from the aesthetic benefits, this bridge also helps to bring the City's focus on wellness into the foreground. Kentucky has not been known for having a healthy population base in general. A recent article on reports that 13 states are projected to have obesity rates higher than 60% by 2030 if things don't change. Kentucky is one of those 13 states.

To combat this, there needs to be a focus on diet and exercise as a way to address the core of the issue. The article recommends the people buy a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps on a daily basis. A pedometer is a small device that you can wear on your belt or waistband that will track the number of steps you take each day. This is a great way to set goals for yourself and measure your progress.

The City of Louisville has invested a lot of money in their waterfront development. There are lots of walkways leading through green spaces, bicycles for rent, many playgrounds, and open grassy areas for other sports activities. I work in downtown Louisville at least a few days per week, and get out for a nice long walk every day on my lunch hour. I try to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps each day, and track my steps on my new Fitbit One Pedometer. On February 7th, I was joined by hundreds of others that took advantage of the opportunity to get a brisk walk in across the new walking bridge. It was a great sight to see!

(Image Credit to Cameron Miquelon - Licensed via Creative Commons with Attribution)

Do You Exercise Daily and Wear a Pedometer?

I wear a pedometer each day. It helps me maintain my goal of walking at least 10,000 steps each day. I have been wearing a pedometer each day for several years now. How many steps do you take each day?

Fitbit One Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker, Black
Fitbit One Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker, Black

The Fitbit One is the pedometer that I own. It is small, and uses bluetooth technology to sync your steps with your Fitbit account as well as other wellness accounts.

Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker, Charcoal
Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker, Charcoal

The Fitbit Zip is the pedometer that I got for my wife. It is very small, and she can even clip it to her bra so it is out of sight. This pedometer also uses bluetooth technology to wirelessly sync to a Fitbit account.

Omron HJ-112 Digital Pocket Pedometer
Omron HJ-112 Digital Pocket Pedometer

The Omron HJ-112 is a very popular and inexpensive pedometer. It stores up to 7 days of information.

Ozeri 4x3motion Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer with Tri-Axis Technology, in Black
Ozeri 4x3motion Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer with Tri-Axis Technology, in Black

The Ozeri 4x3motion is another very popular pedometer. It is inexpensive too. It has a split screen display that allows you to see multiple data points (including time and date) at all times.

LifeSpan MyStride Activity Tracker (White, Small)
LifeSpan MyStride Activity Tracker (White, Small)

The LifeSpan MyStride pedometer is small enough to sit in your pocket or clip to your belt. It has a flip out USB connector that allows you to upload your steps via your computer.


Walking for Exercise Poll

Do you walk for exercise each day? If so, how many steps do you try to take?

See results

So what do you think about my lens on the Big Four Bridge?

Have you ever been to Louisville before?

If you have the opportunity to visit Louisville in the future, will you take the opportunity to take a walk across the Big Four Bridge?

Please let me know you were here, and tell me what you think!

Leave a Comment on the Big Four Bridge Guestbook!

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    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      5 years ago from La Verne, CA

      These projects take time. The L.A., river is finally getting some natural settings back. It used to be concrete.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image


      5 years ago from New Jersey

      That bridge looks like a lot of fun to walk across!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      5 years ago from United States

      What a wonderful way to bring new life to an old beautiful bridge! I have been to Louisville many times. I will have to seek out the Big Four Bridge for my morning walk next time I am there.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 

      5 years ago from Houston

      Great idea for a page and you've really shown us the scope of what has been going on. I'm glad it's been resurrected.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I think it is great that they found a way to keep the bridge and use it, too. It is so sad to see historical structures come down to make way for "progress". Kudos to those who who had the foresight to see the real potential of your bridge. How exciting to be there when it opened, too!

    • Michael Oksa profile image

      Michael Oksa 

      5 years ago

      Nice to see the bridge is being put to good use. Great idea for a lens! :)


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