A rendering of what the future entrance to River Ridge Commerce Center will look like. | Courtesy of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Landscape Architects

A rendering of what the future entrance to River Ridge Commerce Center will look like. | Courtesy of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Landscape Architects

The River Ridge Development Authority board awarded nearly $13 million in contracts to two companies to complete a two-phase project aimed at creating a face for River Ridge Commerce Center, the 6,000-acre commercial development it oversees in Jeffersonville.

“One of our main objectives in overall development is to have a very attractive, appealing place with landscaping and power in the ground and pretty strong convenance codes,” said Jerry Acy, executive director of River Ridge Development Authority. “The visual impact of coming into River Ridge is paramount.”

The project is a response to the construction of the East End Bridge, which will connect Prospect to Southern Indiana and is expected to send considerable traffic past River Ridge Commerce Center. The bridge also is expected to make the development more appealing to companies looking to open or expand operations in the Greater Louisville area.

Phase 1A of the River Ridge Gateway project will include removing existing pavement, building a bridge over a heavy-haul road, landscaping, signage, excavation and grading. The work was awarded to Louisville Paving and Construction for just more than $6 million.

Phase 2B of the project will include excavating; construction of a dam and lake that doubles as a stormwater retention basin; and building retaining walls, water features, pedestrian overlooks, a multi-use asphalt trail and pedestrian bridges. The second phase was awarded to MAC Construction & Excavating for $6.8 million.

The River Ridge Development Authority wants the entrance to River Ridge Commerce Center to include a corporate office development, with workers able to enjoy the water features. Meanwhile, heavy-haul trucks would be routed through the entrance onto their own separate road away from passenger vehicle traffic.

Creating two different pathways for trucks and cars is “the reason this costs a good bit of money,” Acy said. But having the truck traffic is crucial for a commercial development like River Ridge. “The U.S. economy runs on trucks,” he said.

Work on the project will begin in a few weeks once all the contracts are officially signed and is expected to be completed in October 2016 when the East End Bridge opens. United Consulting out of Indianapolis has been contracted to provide full-time oversight on the gateway project. The contract is valued at $826,000, about three-fourths of which is expected to be reimbursed by the Indiana Department of Transportation.