Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge

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Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge

The Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge is a railroad bridge connecting the Louisville, Kentucky, area to New Albany, Indiana. Constructed from 1881 to 1885 by the Kentucky and Indiana Bridge Company, it opened in 1886. Originally, it included a single standard gauge track and two wagon ways, allowing wagons and other animal powered vehicles to cross the Ohio River by a method other than ferry for the first time. At the time motorized vehicles were virtually nonexistent. The K&I Bridge company also owned a ferry boat operation during both the 1st and 2nd bridge, eventually that operation was sold as the bridge's success largely outmoded boat usage.

Upon opening, the bridge company also offered the Daisy Line, an early steam locomotive commuter train service. In 1893, the Daisy Line trains became electrified, the first steam to electric conversion in the U.S. This train was subject of feature articles in technical journals and was pictured in "Engineering News". Louisville's heavy rail electrification even preceded the electrification of the famous Chicago's 'L' trains by two years.

Passengers traveled in multi-unit three-car elevated electric trains from 1st, 4th and 7th Street elevated stations and other stations en route between Louisville and New Albany. This rapid transit service was wildly popular, with its 15 minute service and convenient schedules from 6am to midnight, ridership soared exponentially from day one. The rapid transit aspect of these trains took Louisvillians by storm and was wildly popular. By 1906 a ridership survey found 3,425 commuter passengers crossing daily and 1,250,000 passengers per year,crossing the K&I Bridge on these rapid electric trains. Even by modern standards this would be considered a heavily used line.

Expenditures made for replacing wooden bridge railings and retrofitting west Louisville wooden el segments with steel, resulted in receivership for the Kentucky and Indiana Bridge Company. The company reorganized in 1899 now renamed the Kentucky and Indiana Bridge and Railroad Company. There was no interruption of the electric commuter train or other bridge heavy rail, line hauled freight and passenger trains.

In late 1907, the The K&I Bridge and Railroad Co sold its commuter train equipment to another company, completely exiting the commuter rail business. By spring of 1908, the elevated west Louisville, the downtown Louisville elevated trackage and elevated stations were no longer used.

In March 1908 the new operator changed all of the equipment gauge, making crossings via a broad gauge gauntlet track over the bridge, with a down ramp immediately afterward, to connect to Louisville's 5 ft  (1,524 mm) gauge streetcar tracks. The 1908 version of service was essentially converted to trolleys including single car runs, but two car trains were retained for rush hour to meet the heavy patronage and ridership expectations built up over the decades.

In 1910 the bridge company was renamed the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Railroad Co. From 1910 to 1911, the bridge was rebuilt and double tracked to handle increasingly heavier train and now automobile traffic. In 1952, creosoted wood block roadways of the second bridge were eliminated and replaced by a steel gridwork roadway. In 1979, an overweight dump truck caused a small segment of the steel grate roadway on the bridge to sag about 1 foot (0.30 m). A quick survey promised to reopen the roadway, but automotive traffic was permanently banned thereafter.

The bridge also featured a rotating swing span opening for the passage of ships in high water. The bridge was only opened four times, twice for testing in 1913 and 1915, then in 1916 for the passage of the steamer "Tarascon" and in 1920 for passage of the Australian convict ship "Success". In 1948 it refused opening of the span for passage of the steamer "Gordon C. Greene" citing inconvenience and costs of cutting power and communication lines, an action for which K&I and LG&E both paid damages to that ship's company. In 1955 the K&I sought and received permission to permanently tie down the swing span from the Corps of Engineers.


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