JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - The Indiana side of the Big Four Bridge is on track to open around the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, Jeffersonville's mayor said Friday.
The pedestrian bridge, which has endured several delays that have now spanned a year, will connect Louisville with downtown Jeffersonville.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is in charge of the project and Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said the state agency has indicated the bridge is eight to nine weeks from fully opening. The timeline relies on custom-fitted lights that are still in production, Moore said.
"I know everyone's frustrated, and I'm included in that," Moore said. "If you look at it, it looks gorgeous. It looks done, but there are no lights on it."
Moore said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer asked him about the schedule this week. Fischer wants the bridge opened as soon as possible, said Chris Poynter, the mayor's spokesman.
Delays began a year ago when neighbors had concerns about INDOT's choice of lighting for the Jeffersonville ramp. Contractors have pushed back the completion date from fall 2013 to spring 2014.
A barricade currently stops walkers, runners and bicyclists high above the Jeffersonville shoreline of the Ohio River.
Moore said a handful of businesses have opened in anticipation of new traffic from the bridge. Neighbors said they were tired of looking at the construction mess.
"It was such a warm day, and you didn't see anybody at all out there working on it," said Steve Pohlman, who lives across from the Jeffersonville ramp. "It's just been frustrating because we've been waiting on this side of the walkway to be opened for awhile."
Pohlman said he's never been on the Kentucky side of the bridge, despite living so close to its Indiana terminus.
Moore said having the span open for Derby weekend was important because of the tens of thousands of out-of-town guests and tourists that could enjoy the bridge. But when it does open, people will begin to forget about the delays, he said.
"The great thing is, it's not a one-time thing, it's going to be there forever," Moore said.