Jeffersonville breaks ground on $3 million project to stabilize riverfront, attract boaters

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Indiana — The southern Indiana city of Jeffersonville broke ground Monday on a project to revamp its Ohio River shoreline to stabilize it and attract boaters to restaurants and shops.

The $3 million project got underway eight months after the city evicted the last remaining houseboats that had docked along the shoreline to make way for a new marina with landscaping and sidewalks.

Mayor Mike Moore said the city across from Louisville, Kentucky, has considered several plans to revamp the dock area during the last 20 years.

"Today, we celebrate the beginning of creating a new front door in our wonderful city," Moore said as heavy machinery tore down the old docks. "Today, we put behind us all the failed efforts of the past to create a new dock and marina for Jeff. Today, we celebrate progress in the city of Jeffersonville."

Moore and other city officials hope the project will help attract more visitors to restaurants and other shops in its historic downtown area. The opening of the Big Four Bridge's walking and cycling ramp into Jeffersonville fueled those efforts earlier this year.

A plan approved by city's Redevelopment Commission in September includes docks to accommodate 15 transient boaters, down from 30 docks that had been proposed before the project was scaled back to cut costs.

The new marina will stabilize the shoreline with a limestone-style retaining wall, a reconstructed road, an 8-foot-wide decorative concrete sidewalk and 500 feet of green space with picnic tables.

City Councilman Mike Smith, whose district includes the marina site, said stabilizing the riverbank was a top priority for him. He said he's seen the bank slowly erode since his first visit to the site when he was 14. A steep slope full of weeds is unsafe for city maintenance crews and older and disabled residents.

"So it is going to open it up to a lot more people," Smith said.

The project is expected to be completed in October 2015.

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