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No Date For Roebling Repairs; Bridge Still Closed For Now

Bill Rinehart
A KTC worker peeks over the top of the north tower of the Roebling during unrelated maintenance, Wednesday morning.

Two men climbed to the top of the north tower of the Roebling Suspension Bridge Wednesday morning, but they weren't there to solve the problem that's had the bridge closed since April 17. Instead, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet workers were fixing a broken lock on the tower, according to KTC spokeswoman Nancy Wood.

She says KTC is still waiting for a consultant's report on how to make temporary repairs to the tower, since pieces of sandstone broke off and fell to the bridge deck below.

"The Roebling Bridge is so unique, compared to other bridges. First and foremost, it's a national historic landmark: a 152-year old bridge that we're trying to preserve," she says. "There's a lot more precautions and things we need to think about to keep that structural integrity and to keep the historic significance intact." 

Because of the historical nature of the bridge, Wood says "we can't just drill holes, add wires, fencing, bolt things down. We have to think about equipment, because there are weight restrictions on the bridge."

There was already a project planned for 2020 to make some long-term repairs. Wood says the consultant is now looking for a temporary fix, to get the bridge open until that project starts.

In the meantime, the Roebling has been closed to vehicular traffic, and pedestrians are limited to the walkway on the west side. Or at least, they are in theory. Some people have ignored the warning signs, and pushed barrels aside to use the east side walkway or walk down the middle of the road.

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
Pedestrians stroll across the bridge deck, Saturday afternoon.

"That's the frustrating part," Wood says. "There has been debris falling 80 feet onto the bridge deck and the walkway. Unfortunately people don't respect the bridge or the closures or public safety."

She says KTC is in the process of putting up stronger barricades. "We're not keeping people off the bridge, but we would like to keep them off the bridge deck and the east side walkway."