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15th Street Bridge Replacement May Force Company to Move

EXCLUSIVE

Plans to remove and possibly replace the Fifteenth Street Bridge may force a Covington business to move.

At a special working session of the Covington City Commission on Thursday, it was explained that the structurally deficient bridge, which has been closed to vehicular traffic for several years, would need to have a higher grade to accommodate the trains that run below. That higher grade would cut off the remaining access points to ASAP Analytical, a company that specializes in sales, service, and support of laboratory products.

General Manager Tyler Harris said that some of the plans for the Fifteenth Street Bridge would leave his building landlocked. "If we lose access to the back we have no way of people getting in or out of our property legally," he said.

ASAP Analytical's address is on Neave Street but is most visible from Madison Avenue between Kroger and the Colonial Inn. Losing access to Neave would force ASAP employees and commercial visitors to use the Kroger parking lot as an exit, something Kroger is uninterested in, according to comments Thursday.

The new bridge will have to be twenty-three feet high in order to meet the newer standards of the trains that travel underneath, an increase of nearly seven feet from the current structure's height. There are three alternatives for that bridge and the one on Eleventh Street which was also cut off to vehicular traffic earlier this year for the same structural reasons.

Option one would replace the existing bridge with one for car and pedestrian traffic. A second option would replace the existing bridge with one strictly for pedestrians and emergency vehicles with two lanes, each eight-feet wide. A third option removes the bridge and replaces  its former access points with dead-ends.

At a recent public meeting, attendees showed overwhelming support for pedestrian bridges on each of the streets. "We're at a point where we need to give (Kentucky Transportation Cabinet) a detailed analysis on where we want to go," said assistant city manager Larisa Sims. The city commission will decide soon.

Because the bridge replacements are a state project, KYTC will then perform a cost/benefit analysis and review environmental concerns and would then proceed to a detailed design. It would likely take one year after a decision is made before right-of-way acquisition begins.

In addition to ASAP Analytical's need to move, fourteen other properties and parcels of land would be impacted and likely razed. The city was unable to make contact with four owners of those properties while six said they were willing to relocate, two were unsure, and two said they would not relocate. ASAP's building is not slated to be torn down.

As for ASAP, the bridge plans has put the company's own plans on hold. The city's business development manager, Naashom Marx, said the company was hoping to expand which is why it also owns, through another company, a nearby parcel of land. "It's in limbo," Marx said. "Their line of credit is also decreasing because of the value of the property."

"We're a small company and a move like this, that could take us a month or two to recover from," Harris said. "We're a manufacturer. A month shut-down could be very detrimental to our business."

The state has funds available to assist in the relocation of a business like ASAP, affected by such a project. Those funds would cover the cost of the move as well as the interruption of business. City commissioners and administrators expressed desire to help ASAP find a new home in Covington to which Harris said he would keep an open mind.

One other option that was not formally included in Thursday's presentation but was mentioned by Marx was the possible creation of a new access point north of the Kroger parking lot. It would require the demolition of the Colonial Inn and changing Neave from a one-way street to two-way traffic. That would allow ASAP to stay where they are.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: ASAP Analytical/RCN