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Purple People Bridge to Reopen Fully by Thanksgiving Even as Work Continues

The Newport Southbank Bridge, better known locally as the Purple People Bridge, is expected to reopen fully for pedestrians by Thanksgiving.

Newport Southbank Bridge Company President and Southbank Partners President Will Weber said that donors contributed $350,000 to fund both temporary and permanent fixes to the bridge.

The span, which connects Newport to Cincinnati over the Ohio River, was closed on May 11 after stones from pier one fell into the river. Most of the bridge reopened to pedestrians on July 1 but the northernmost portion remained closed.

It will be fully open on Saturday, only temporarily, to accommodate the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Greater Cincinnati fundraising run for breast cancer research.

Engineers working on the project determined that it can be safely and temporarily opened for the Saturday event provided that specific measures are followed, said Weber. 

"The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is an incredible event in the community that hits home for so many," Weber said. "The Newport Southbank Bridge Company recognizes this and has worked diligently with Brian Gibson, Organizer of the Greater Cincinnati’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K, Donna Salyers, Chair of the Making Strides event, as well as our contractor, Fenton Rigging & Contracting, Inc and our engineer WSP USA Inc. to assess and make the necessary improvements to safely reopen the bridge for the annual walk to help raise money for the necessary resources for patients, survivors, and caregivers."  

Making Strides event chair Donna Salyers, the founder and president of Donna Salyers Fabulous Furs in Covington, was thrilled to hear of temporary reopening of the bridge.  

"Shockingly, one in eight women experience breast cancer," Salyers said. "While I’ve not had cancer, our adult son is a lucky survivor and to show my gratitude for his recovery, I volunteer. Our goal is $300,000 in research dollar donations and to recruit 10,000 participants for the 5k walk spanning between Ohio and Kentucky. Work began in February and we’re on-track to exceed all goals." 

Donna and Jim Salyers have personally pledged a $25 donation for every runner that registers for the event by this Thursday.  

 "We’re walking to support those struggling with cancer as well as honoring those whose lives were cut short," Salyers said. 

The following donors are making the temporary and permanent reopening of the bridge possible with their generous contributions: 

  • Devou Good Foundation, $154,000; 
  • John and Sue Topits Foundation, $100,000; 
  • RC Durr Foundation, $50,000; 
  • Newport Foundation, $13,000.  

The Newport Southbank Bridge Company also provided $37,000 for the repairs for a total raised of $354,000. 

"At this time, we are estimating the Purple People Bridge will re-open by Thanksgiving with a temporary repair and will remain open as we make the long-term repairs with an estimated completion date in spring 2022," Weber said. 

-Staff report