Just yesterday a customer at Bank Street Brewhouse asked me how matters are proceeding with reference to the unfinished Ohio River Greenway section at Silver Creek. I came home to discover a K & I Bridge update from Jackie Green’s group (slow and incremental progress on that front), including this terrific and comprehensive statement about what’s happening, written by Al Goodman, the founding father of the Loop Island wetlands.
Trouble is, I don’t know the fellow’s name. Hope you’re reading, wherever you are.
The following on the trestle bridge across Silver Creek is from Al Goodman, P.E., President A. W. Goodman & Associates, Inc., owner of Loop Island Wetlands …
The bridge across Silver Creek: This is a 247 foot long steel trestle bridge with three spans. It is 55 ft above the bottom of Silver Creek. It is a replacement bridge for the two tracks that originally crossed Silver Creek on the same stone piers. It has some unique construction features since it is actually setting on lots of small railroad rail sections on the concrete capped stone piers. I believe it was reconstructed in 1921 and consists of about 214,000 pounds of steel. It was owned by several railroads, including the Jeffersonville, Madison, Indianapolis RR, and the Pennsylvania RR.
The Greenway original plan was to build a new pedestrian and VEHICLE bridge across the mouth of Silver Creek at the Ohio River. This would cost at least $5 – $10 million, however after years of discussion and debate it is currently in the plan for the Ohio River Greenway to cross this RR bridge. The western approach of the Greenway was finally constructed last year and completed to within 75 ft of the bridge. I granted a permanent easement for the Greenway through the Loop Island Wetland property, with the remaining connecting segment constructed on the floodwall easement. This is a 12 ft wide asphalt/concrete Greenway, however the in-ground lighting isn’t turned on yet. This was constructed as I didn’t want elevated lights to disrupt the wildlife in the Loop Island Wetlands, and the Corp of Engineers agreed to specify/install these special lights. These are lights like used on runways that light the pathway, but not the neighboring areas. There is an access through the concrete floodwall (old RR opening) just east of the intersection of Silver St. and Main St. in New Albany (behind my old office building on the tannery property). I also granted a 35 ft wide permanent easement for public access to the Loop Island Wetlands from Silver & Main Sts. (Currently just drive around the trucks and/or gate that the owner of Scratch-N-Dent and Tiger Trucking periodically places in the route to the wetlands entrance.)
The Town of Clarksville is preparing to complete retrofitting this bridge and Greenway from the existing termination across Silver Creek, through the junkyards and connect to Emory Crossing road. This will allow biking/walking the entire 7.1 miles on the Indiana side of the river as this is the last remaining section that is not passable. The bridge currently has only railroad ties on it with 8” gaps in between the ties and no railings. An old school bus was placed across the “track” by the junkyard to keep people from walking across and through their property.
Clarksville has been working with consultants to evaluate this RR bridge since IN Dept of Transportation (INDOT) match money will be used for the Greenway construction. INDOT has substantial requirements for types of construction or retrofits and therefore required a structural analyses which Clarksville has had completed for the bridge. It does need repairs, however the steel repairs are very minor since it was last used in mid-1980’s for trains. It is very heavy steel construction with only a few small braces needing replacement. The problem is two stone piers with one on each of the Silver Creek banks. These stones are somewhat loose and the consultants have presented Clarksville with 3 options for repair or replacement. When I last talked with them several weeks ago, Clarksville is determining what to do next. They have also completed an archaeological survey that was also required by INDOT. According to Brian Kaluzny at Clarksville (Parks Dept), construction probably won’t be bid for the RR section until 2014.
Currently with the Greenway terminating 75 ft from Silver Creek, a lot of people are visiting the 47 acre Loop Island Wetlands that most people don’t realize is an asset to the region. There are about a mile of pathways around the 17 acre free-water pond that was an original bend in Silver Creek. I could go on a lot about this area (including the Henry Clay-Humphrey Marshall duel that was fought in these “Dueling Grounds”, native American uses, survey by William Clark in 1785, etc. The other 5 acre pond was unfortunately drained when the berm washed out into Silver Creek 3 years ago. Funds have not been available to repair this washout and restore this pond/wetland area.
Perhaps it should also be stated, I’m nearing closing a deal to sell these wetlands as part of the old tannery property. The developer will convert the 3-story tannery building into senior apartments within this year, if the deal goes through. That’s an incredibly long story, but the intended new owner has stated he will donate the wetlands to the City. The City or the Greenway already has the easements for public access to the RR bridge, but I still own the bridge, until this deal goes through.
Hope this information helps clarify the status. I have hundreds of photos of this area, the bridge and can do a presentation on this area if desired.