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How To Navigate Riverfest

Tana Weingartner

Since you won't be watching this year's end of summer fireworks on TV (as WVXU's John Kiesewetter was first to report), here's what you (and the roughly half million of your closest friends and neighbors) need to know if you're planning to head Downtown on Sunday.Riverfest runs from noon until 10 p.m. The fireworks begin around 9:05 p.m.


Third Street, and all streets north of Third Street, will be open so that people can access points throughout Downtown.  On-street parking will NOT be available throughout the downtown area south of Court Street after 11:00 AM on Sunday, September 6.

Other important closures include:

  • The Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, Suspension Bridge, Purple People Bridge, and the Taylor Southgate Bridge will all close at 6:00 PM to vehicles and pedestrians.
  • The streets into Mt. Adams will be closed at 6:00 PM.
  • The Daniel Carter Beard Bridge (I-471) will close at 7:30 PM.
  • The Third Street exits from westbound Columbia Parkway and southbound I-71 will close at 9:00 PM.

*The actual timing of these closures may be adjusted as traffic volumes dictate.
Parking is available in the many lots and garages north of Third Street. Additional parking lots are located north and west of Paul Brown Stadium. Cash parking will be available in Riverfront surface lots in the vicinity of Paul Brown Stadium on a limited first come, first served basis.  Please note that construction sites in and around the riverfront are off limits for public parking. Sites will be clearly marked and secured, and anyone parking in these areas will be towed.

Here's a link to everything you can/can't do/bring to Riverfest.


All streets north of East Fourth Street and east of Madison Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic at 6 p.m. The Roebling Suspension Bridge and the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge will be closed to all traffic beginning at 6 p.m. The Fourth Street Bridge to Newport will close at 8 p.m.

Madison Avenue will remain open to allow access to public parking lots and garages until they are full or 6 p.m., whichever occurs first. Once the parking lots and garages have reached full capacity, Madison Ave. will be closed to through traffic north of East Fourth Street. There are exceptions for TANK buses, invitation holders to the Metropolitan Club and hotel guests with room keys and parking passes.

Devou Park, Kenton Hills, and The Bluffs will have restricted traffic beginning at 2 p.m. Access to these areas will be restricted to residents and their guests only.

Streets inside of the Impact Area will not reopen and residents and guests will not be permitted to exit the Impact Area in a vehicle until the CPD Event Commander determines that it is safe to do so. This may be up to an hour after the fireworks are completed.

Covington Parking

The following areas within the Impact Area will be posted as "No Parking Tow Away Zones". Vehicles parked in these areas will be towed starting at 7 a.m.:

  • Riverside Drive
  • Garrard Street between East Second Street and Riverside Drive
  • Kennedy Street between East Second Street and Riverside Drive
  • Shelby Street
  • Scott Blvd. north of East Fourth Street (including parking meters)
  • Greenup Street north of East Fourth Street (including parking meters)
  • East Third Street east of Madison Avenue (including parking meters)
  • Park Place (including parking meters)
  • Court Street (including parking meters)
  • Surface lots along the floodwall on Rivercenter Blvd. between Madison Avenue and Johnson Street and below the Roebling Suspension Bridge
  • Grass areas in Devou Park

All vehicles parked in garages and parking lots located in the Impact Area will not be permitted to leave until pedestrian traffic has cleared and the CPD Event Commander has determined that it is safe for vehicle traffic.
Alcohol & Other Restrictions - Covington

Alcohol is prohibited on City property and in public places at all times. All coolers and beverage containers are subject to inspection by CPD officers and will be checked at designated checkpoints.

For guests attending private events, no alcohol is permitted in the Impact Area after 6 p.m. Anyone wishing to bring alcohol to a private event must have it in the Impact Area before 6 p.m. After 6 p.m., Police officers will not allow anyone with alcohol to enter the Impact Area.

Glass containers, bicycles, skateboards, pets, roller blades, roller skates, and fireworks are all PROHIBITED in the Impact Area. Motorized vehicles or scooters are not permitted on floodwalls. Swimming in both the Ohio and Licking Rivers is also prohibited during Riverfest.


Beginning at 8 a.m., Riverboat Row, Columbia below 4th St., and 3rd St. westbound from York all close. 3rd St. then becomes one-way east from York to Columbia. At 7:30 p.m. Cowans Drive, 10th Street between Saratoga and York, and Monmouth Street from 3rd to 11th all close.

There is no parking on Monmouth from 7 p.m. until midnight. (From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monmouth will be closed and used by emergency vehicles only.) The street will be one-way heading south following the fireworks to help clear the riverfront. All traffic west of York Street will be directed south on Central Ave. (Route 9) to 12th Street, right (westward) on 12th Street, follow 12th Street to I-275.

The Purple People Bridge closes to pedestrians at 5:00 p.m. The Taylor Southgate Bridge closes to vehicles at 6 p.m. and closes to pedestrians at 7:30 p.m.

4th Street to Covington closes at 8:30 p.m.

I-471 Exit Ramps to Route 8 close at 7:30 p.m. (Unless safety concerns dictate closing earlier.)
Do not park on bridges, ramps, or highways, you will be cited and your vehicle will be towed.

Newport Police say:

After the fireworks all traffic will be routed to I-471 or I-275. Both of these routes will take you anywhere in the tri-state. PLEASE TAKE WHICHEVER ENTRANCE RAMP YOU ARE THE CLOSEST TO OR WHATEVER ENTRANCE RAMP YOU ARE DIRECTED TO BY EMERGENCY PERSONNEL.

Public Transportation:

Metro will be running a normal operating schedule.   For more information, call MetroCenter at (513) 621-4455 or visit http://www.go-metro.com/.  For more information about the Southbank Shuttle as well as the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky, contact TANK at (859) 331-TANK or visit www.tankbus.org

On The River:

The United States Coast Guard will establish a no wake zone and a river closure on the Ohio River on Sunday from mile 476 (beyond Riverside Park Boat Ramp) to mile 464 (Four Seasons Marina and Aquaramp Marinas) and on the Licking River from mile 0.0 to mile 3.0. The zone will be enforced from Noon on Sunday to 3:00 a.m. on Monday, September 7.

Additionally, the river will be closed to all commercial and recreational vessel traffic in the downtown Cincinnati area from Ohio River mile 469.2 to mile 470.5 and Licking River mile 0.0 to 0.4 from 7:00 p.m. until the end of the fireworks display. During the river closure, no vessel traffic, including commercial or recreational vessels, personal water crafts, or sailing vessels will be allowed to transit, launch, or leave any Kentucky or Ohio harbors or ramps located within this river closure without the permission of the U.S. Coast Guard “PATCOM.”

There will be 3 anchorage areas within the river closure and vessels intending to anchor must do so before the river closure.

  • Anchorage 1 will extend 300 feet from the Kentucky shoreline between Ohio River mile 470.5 to 470.7.
  • Anchorage 2 will extend 300 feet from the Ohio shoreline between Ohio River mile 469.2 and 469.6.
  • Anchorage 3 will extend 300 feet from the Kentucky shoreline between Ohio River mile 469.2 and 469.6.

Vessel movement within this river closure area prior to 7:00 p.m. must be with the sole intent to anchor or transit through. All vessels in these anchorage areas MUST remain inside the buoys marking the anchorage.
The U.S. Coast Guard “PATCOM” may be reached on channel 16 VHF-FM between 10:00 a.m. and midnight the day of the event. Listen to Marine Channel 16 and 22A VHF-FM for river closure and opening announcements.