Lightning strike takes down Big Four Bridge’s light show

Lightning strike takes down Big Four Bridge’s light show
The Big Four Bridge lights were damaged during a storm in early March. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - Louisville officials have shed some light on why the Big Four pedestrian bridge’s spectacular light show has gone dark.

On March 9, lightning struck the bridge during a storm and damaged some key components, said David Karem, president of the Waterfront Development Corp., the organization that manages the bridge’s lighting system.

Gary Pepper, director of facilities for the organization, said possibly seven data enablers were hit, taking out a section of lighting.

“It fried it,” he said.

So, the organization powered down the bridge’s signature light show to address the issue.

Pepper said they have received the data enabler replacements, and now they are now waiting on some new surge protector devices to arrive. An electrician is on standby.

Once all of those parts are installed, Pepper said the lighting system then must be reprogrammed before the show can go on.

“We are hoping to have the lights going again before Thunder Over Louisville,” he said. This year, that event is Saturday, April 13.

Fortunately, the pathway lighting across the bridge is still working, so nighttime walkers aren't in the dark, Pepper said. The approach ramp on the Indiana side remains well lit, even with the light show out of service.

An estimated 1.2 million people cross the bridge into Jeffersonville each year, Mayor Mike Moore said.

Safety is always a priority throughout the city, and Big Four Station Park is no exception, he added. There is at least one city police officer assigned to the park around the clock, and at least two more are less than two minutes away patrolling nearby neighborhoods.

The mayor said he walks the bridge at 6:45 a.m. daily. He said when he does, he feels "completely safe.”

Maintaining the bridge’s elaborate light show is a complicated undertaking.

“It’s cool when it’s working,” Pepper said. “But, when things like this happen, you can’t fix it yourself. It can be very frustrating.”

Waterfront Development staff members know that the darkened bridge is a disappointment to many in the community, so they are working as quickly as they can to remedy the situation.

“It is a very popular thing,” Karem said. “And so, we definitely want to get the lights back on as soon as possible for everyone.”

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