The River Ridge Development Authority, which manages the 6,000-acre River Ridge Commerce Center in Jeffersonville, has a vision in mind of an entrance that will serve as the “gateway” into Indiana from a new Interstate 265 interchange.

The I-265 interchange is being constructed alongside a new East End Bridge that will connect Kentucky near Prospect and Indiana near Utica.

When the interchange is finished, River Ridge will be one of the first exits off the bridge coming into Indiana, and a master plan produced last year by Indianapolis-based landscape architecture firm Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf outlined a 600-acre gateway development that will serve to beautify River Ridge’s front door off the East End Bridge.

Monday night, the River Ridge Development Authority approved two contracts for the first phase of that project at just under $13 million.

Gateway Phase 1A was awarded to Louisville Paving & Construction Co. at just more than $6 million. The company beat out four other bidders and came in well below the high bid of $8.4 million.

Phase 1A will primarily entail the excavation, blasting, grading and roadwork tied to the Gateway entrance, including a portion of a road that will carry heavy trucks and a 0.6-mile stretch of River Ridge Parkway from the I-265 interchange into the park. That will include the construction of a bridge overpass, according to River Ridge officials.

Other work in that contract includes placement of a guardrail, storm sewer, drainage culvert, erosion-control measures, landscaping features, pavement markings and signs

Phase 1B, meanwhile, was awarded for about $6.8 million to Jeffersonville-basedMAC Construction & Excavating Inc., which beat Clarksville-based E&B Paving’s bid of nearly $8.3 million. That project will include excavating, earthwork, landscaping and construction of a nearly five-acre lake and dam that also will serve as a stormwater retention basin, said River Ridge Development Authority executive director Jerry Acy. Other work in that contract include construction of stone retaining walls, multi-use asphalt trail, water features, pedestrian overlooks and pedestrian bridges.

The goal is to have the work finished by the late 2016 to coincide with the opening of the East End Bridge.

The Gateway project, in total, could cost as much as $87 million and will include an extension of Patrol Road and construction of River Ridge Parkway. The parkway’s route will be shaped in large part by how a mega-site development at River Ridge, totaling more than 1,500 acres, is used.

The Gateway plan also calls for secondary roads to be constructed as River Ridge is developed, along with sidewalks, water-retention ponds, multi-use trails, a neighborhood park and a corporate headquarters facility for the River Ridge Development Authority. Acy also has said the entrance of River Ridge eventually could attract commercial tenants.

Also on Monday, the authority approved a contract with United Consulting not to exceed $826,000 for the construction inspection, engineering and administration services for Phase 1A of the Gateway project.

River Ridge currently is building the first phase of a heavy-haul road that is designed to carry trucks with heavy loads into and out of the business park. The first phase of the road costs about $10 million and will connect Ind. 62 to the I-265 Interchange by late 2016.

Marty Finley covers economic development, commercial real estate, government, education and sports business.

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