The Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge (K&I) is a railroad bridge connecting Louisville, Kentucky and New Albany, Indiana. It is notable for its two abandoned automobile lanes flanking the railroad tracks. I set out, as I have done so in the past, to photograph the crossing. Within two minutes of arriving on-site, I was greeted by the friendly New Albany police. Oh well, that didn’t stop from photographing the bridge!
Constructed from 1883 to 1886 by the Kentucky and Indiana Bridge Company, the crossing contained a single standard-gauge rail and two wagon lanes, and was the first fixed-crossing for wagons over the Ohio River in Louisville. The idea of a bridge between the two cities came about after the completion of the Louisville Bridge Company’s span at the Ohio River Falls, which connected Louisville and Jeffersonville. That span, completed in 1870, had vested interests from both the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N) and the Pennsylvania Railroad. In addition, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) and the Monon (LNAC) used the bridge. The B&O and LNAC had small yards in Louisville, and the main Monon yard and shop was in New Albany.
Because of the cross-traffic, it did not take long for New Albany to desire a crossing of their own.
Upon the completion of the span, the Kentucky and Indiana operated the Daisy Line – named for its yellow cars, an early commuter train service. The passenger service proved to be extremely popular, and by 1906, the service was handling 1,250,000 passengers a year.
In 1893, the B&O stipulated that the K&I replace the wooden trestles in Louisville with iron.3 When the project was completed, it forced the Kentucky and Indiana Bridge Company went into receivership. The B&O, Monon and Southern all bid on the K&I Bridge in 1899, and purchased it one year later, and renamed the bridge company to the Kentucky and Indiana Bridge and Railroad Company.
By 1901, the Ohio River crossing was obsolete. It could not handle the newer, heavier steam engines, and long trains had to be broken up into segments due to weight restrictions.
In late-1907, the Bridge and Railroad Company sold its commuter rolling stock and stations to the Louisville & Northern Railway and Light Company, and exited the commuter rail business all together. Early in the next year, the elevated commuter line and its associated stations were abandoned in favor of a connection to the streetcar tracks. In essence, the commuter train service became an extension of the Louisville trolley service. Two extra car trains were added, however, to meet the heavy usage demands. By 1910, the bridge handled 96 streetcar crossings and carried 1,800,000 passengers per year.
Beginning in 1910, the K&I bridge was rebuilt and double tracked to handle not only heavier trains, but automobiles, costing $2 million. Construction began in June 1910 and was completed in November 1912. Another major upgrade resulted in the creosoted wood block roadways being removed in favor of steel grids in 1952.
The Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge featured a rotating swing span, which allowed the bridge to rotate for the passage of ships in high water. The bridge, however, was opened only four times, twice for testing in 1913 and 1915, and again on January 18, 1916 for the passage of Tarascon and for the Australian convict ship Success on March 28, 1920. In 1948, the K&I refused to open the bridge for the Gordon & Green, citing inconvenience and the costs of cutting power and communication lines on the bridge. The K&I and the Louisville Gas and Electric Company later paid damages to the ship’s owner. In November 1955, the K&I requested permission to permanently disable the swing span from the Army Corps of Engineers, which was granted.
It was not until the opening of the Second Street Municipal Bridge in 1929, did Louisville have a second automobile crossing over the Ohio River. The opening of the downtown span did not affect the revenue that was generated from the K&I Bridge, although the opening of the Sherman Minton Bridge in 1969, which carrys Interstate 64 and U.S. Route 150, drastically affected the span.
In 1979, an overweight dump truck caused a small segment of an automobile lane to sag about one-foot.3 The bridge operators promised a quick fix to reopen the roadway, but the lanes were instead abandoned.
View more photographs and historical information after the jump to the Kentucky and Indiana Terminal Bridge article!