Major changes coming to a historic one-lane bridge

By Caton Bredar

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- City officials have been working for nearly a decade to repair and widen the historic, one-lane bridge over Harrods Creek in northeast Louisville. Now work on the project is nearly ready to start, but are neighbors ready? WAVE 3's Caton Bredar investigates.

"The original bridge project was started in 2001, and that's where all the money was earmarked from. I thought this was a second coming of the bridge project, but it's a continuation of the first," said Mark Windhorst, who has lived near the bridge for 15 years.

After seven years of planning, city officials have finally completed a contract and say work to  widen the bridge into two lanes, while maintaining its design, is set to start in the next couple months. The cost -- two million federal dollars. The cost to drivers of not making the change, according to the city, too much to pay.

It may be a narrow stretch, but at certain times, it's very busy. In the short time we were here, dozens of cars came through, many at a high speed, and some hardly even paused.

Still, many question whether two lanes will solve all the problems.

"We're afraid widening would actually make the bridge more unsafe, because it would encourage people to speed through that bridge," says Leslie Barras, associate director of River Fields, a conservation group. "The fact that it's one lane actually slows people as they approach the bridge."

Giving passers-by a chance to enjoy the setting. With graceful boats to its north and rolling pasture to the south, the masonry arched bridge was first built in the early 1900's. Plans for its future, something residents are carefully tracking.

"See where the arches are? They're going to drill on down through the arches and set pins to the soil, real deep. And then they're going to build those pins, so that the bridge is not actually going to be touching the structure, it's going to be above it," Windhorst says.

In the end, it may be a better bridge, but for residents, not quite the same.

"I guess one lane bridges are a thing of the past. To me, it's kind of historic," says Windhorst.

When the project was first started, an official in the Mayor's office says they were told federal funds could only be used for a two-lane bridge. River Fields says according to law, the funds could be used to repair the existing structure as is.

The project will take up to a year to complete.

Online Reporter:  Caton Bredar

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway