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Roebling Bridge Closed To Vehicular Traffic 'Until Further Notice'

Bill Rinehart
Sandstone pieces fell from the north tower of the John A. Roebling bridge, Tuesday.

Updated: 2:11 p.m.

Following sandstone fragments breaking from the east side of the north tower of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, the historic Cincinnati-Covington connector will be closed as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says. It is currently unknown when the bridge will reopen. 

The east-side sidewalk also will be closed to pedestrians, though the west-side sidewalk will remain open, according to a release. The Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky has said it will modify its Southbank Shuttle service beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The stop at 3rd under the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge will be closed, so riders instead should catch the bus at 3rd and Bakewell on the north side of the street. 

"Closing the Roebling Bridge is necessary to ensure the safety of vehicles and pedestrians from the potential of additional falling debris at a height of nearly 80 feet," Bob Yeager, chief district engineer for the Department of Highways' District 6 office said in a statement. "We appreciate the understanding of the public as we work to develop a plan to repair and reopen this important, historic bridge." 

Officials will evaluate the structure to determine repair options for the 152-year-old structure. Performing emergency repairs to the bridge is a more extensive process than traditional bridge repairs due to preservation requirements, KYTC said. 

Spokeswoman Nancy Wood says crews will take a look at the bridge to see if other pieces of sandstone are ready to fall. She says the cabinet was planning on doing some aesthetic work on the bridge anyway. 

"That was scheduled to start in the spring of 2020," she says. "that was going to address some of these issues that we're seeing happening today." 

In March 2018, the bridge was temporarily closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic after a car struck a section of the bridge, damaging one of its primary vertical steel support beams. Engineers were brought in to survey the damage, and since the bridge is a National Historic Landmark, the Kentucky Heritage Council had to sign off on the repair plan. It re-opened April 27, 2018, earlier than expected

The Roebling Bridge carries approximately 8,100 vehicles a day.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.
Jennifer Merritt brings 20 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU.