11th Street Bridge to Close Indefinitely, May Be Removed
UPDATE (4:00PM): The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has issued a statement that indicates the Eleventh Street bridge will be closed permanently starting Friday, February 1. “Based on recent inspections, ongoing deterioration of the structure has continued,” said Rob Hans, Chief District Engineer for Department of Highways District 6, in Covington. “For future safety of the traveling public, the Cabinet made the decision that the closure of this structure is warranted.”
Crews will install barriers on each end of the bridge. Also signage will be installed to detour traffic to take Scott Street (KY 17) to 12th Street (KY 1120). Access to all residents and businesses will be maintained along the 11th Street corridor. The closure will be in place by 4:30 pm.
The District 6 Office made the City of Covington aware of decision to permanently close the 11th Street Bridge. The Cabinet in conjunction with the City of Covington is currently evaluating both the 11th Street and 15th Street Corridor between Russell Street and Madison Ave. to determine future needs for crossings over the CSX railroad. At this time there are no plans to reopen the current 11th Street Bridge. The north sidewalk will remain open for pedestrian use.
The Eleventh Street Bridge between Russell Street and Madison Avenue will be closed indefinitely, possibly as soon as this week, the City of Covington said in a news release issued late Thursday morning. The release noted that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet sent a latter to City Hall indicating that the bridge, which spans several railroad tracks below, would be closed very soon "due to the very serious condition of the steel superstructure".
"We just got that letter late last week or earlier this week and the pictures are pretty revealing," said Covington City Manager Larry Klein. "We're trying to find out now when they're going to close it but it sounds like it will be quite soon."
Nancy Wood, spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in Northern Kentucky, had no further details beyond the information included in the brief news release.
The future of the Eleventh Street bridge and the Fifteenth Street bridge four blocks south have been the topic of discussion at multiple city and neighborhood meetings. The Fifteenth Street bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic for years and has been barricaded since. Klein is unsure if the Eleventh Street bridge will face the same sort of concrete barriers or whether it will be barricaded for the same uncertain amount of time.
"(The transportation cabinet) will barricade it until a decision is made whether to construct a new one or not have a bridge," he said.
"The city has met with the neighborhoods in the past about that bridge and the one on Fifteenth that's already closed to cars. In light of the fact that the Twelfth Street bridge was improved and widened I'm sure that between the highway department, the city, and the neighborhoods, we'll determine whether a vehicle bridge there is necessary."
Klein did not know if the bridge's closure would affect pedestrian traffic. According to the news release, city staff is working with the transportation cabinet to analyze the possibilities of a final solution for the bridges. The current closure is only to address the immediate safety concerns.
"In the superstructure itself, the metal is deteriorated to a point to where it's not as strong as it should be for the loads going over it," Klein said. Photos show the steel as rusted and corroded. The city manager said that if a new bridge were to be constructed, it would have to be built to new standards which include a higher clearance for the trains underneath and a larger approach to the bridge which would impact public right-of-ways, and retaining walls would have to be built. "I think we heard residents saying that they didn't want retaining walls in the front yards," Klein said.
While the Fifteenth Street bridge has been closed and barricaded for some time, Klein is optimistic that the length of the Eleventh Street closure will be shorter. "The Eleventh Street bridge has been the subject of several meetings and analysis by the highway department and the city so we've all been looking at what to do with it all along," he said. "Based on what we've heard, I think we're closer to a final decision. I don't think we're starting from scratch."
South of Ninth Street, the remaining east to west routes through Covington connecting to Madison Avenue would be Twelfth Street/Martin Luther King Boulevard and the Nineteenth Street bridge.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News
Photo: Eleventh Street Bridge in Covington/RCN