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Roebling Bridge Closes to Vehicles on Monday

The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge closes to vehicular traffic on Monday for a restoration project that transportation officials believe will take three-quarters of a year to complete.

The 154-year old space closes at noon on Monday. Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout the restoration project.

A $4.7 million contract was awarded to Monroe, Oh.-based Lithko Restoration Technologies to perform masonry work and to repair and replace sections of sandstone that had fallen from the north and south anchorages and towers. The historic bridge over the Ohio River between Covington and Cincinnati saw a closure in April, 2019, after those sandstone fragments broke from the east side of the north tower, and remained closed until that August when temporary netting was installed which has been present since.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet worked with the State Historic Preservation Office to develop the project that officials hope will address all of these issues while preserving and protecting the bridge designed by its namesake who would go on to design the more famous Brooklyn Bridge.

Additional work includes minor deck and sidewalk repair.

“The bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic during the restoration,” said Bob Yeager, chief district engineer for the Department of Highways District 6 office, “but we know what a vital connection this is and we will keep a pedestrian sidewalk open during the project.”

While city officials and businesses in Covington's Roebling Point district support the project, the timing of it has been questioned, coming amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has wrought economic challenges or outright devastation to area businesses.

City Manager David Johnston appeared on WVXU's Cincinnati Edition this week with Roebling Point Books & Coffee owner Richard Hunt and Lil's Bagels owner Julia Keister to talk about it. In the same show, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet - District 6 Office spokesperson Nancy Wood also explained the project. It can be heard here.

(Editor's note: RCN editor & publisher Michael Monks is the host of Cincinnati Edition.)

The bridge is scheduled to reopen to traffic by the end of November and the overall project is expected to be complete by Dec. 31.

The Roebling Bridge carries approximately 8,100 vehicles a day, according to a state count.

Drivers can use the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge (US 25) or the 4th Street/Veterans Bridge (KY 8) to the Taylor Southgate Bridge (US 27) in Newport as a detour. 

-Staff report