Kentucky Officials: Roebling Repair Update Coming Next Week

The bridge has been closed to automotive traffic since April 17, causing some local businesses to suffer

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The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge. - Hailey Bollinger
Hailey Bollinger
The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.

Details on efforts to repair the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge that will eventually allow it to reopen to automotive traffic will be released next week, officials with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said today.

The bridge carried more than 8,000 cars a day across the Ohio River before it was closed April 17 due to crumbling sandstone on its north tower. The bridge is still open to pedestrian traffic. As the closure has stretched on, local businesses near the bridge have complained about declining sales, Covington officials say.

"We understand that the Cabinet has been working very hard to deal with the unique situation with this old, historic bridge," Covington City Manager David Johnston said in a statement. "It's not easy. But we've been reminding them every chance we get that the closure poses a substantial negative impact on our local businesses, especially those in the Roebling Point District."

The state is still accepting bids on the necessary work, which is complicated due to the 152-year-old span's historic status and weight limits. 

Any fix will be a temporary one. A more permanent effort to fix the span's crumbling sandstone will start next year, necessitating further closures on the bridge, officials say. That project, still in the design stages, is expected to cost roughly $8 million. 

"We anticipate providing an update by the end of next week," a spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said in a statement today. "Because the bridge is a historical landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places, a temporary plan had to be approved by KYTC officials and the State Historic Preservation Office before contractors could begin putting in bids." 

The 1,057-foot span was the world's longest suspension bridge at the time it opened in 1866. Its architect, John A. Roebling, went on to design the Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883.

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