NEWPORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear awarded Campbell County more than $400,000 for outdoor improvements, including a facelift for one of its oldest bridges.
Newport will receive $175,000 for updates to the Purple People Bridge. The money, which comes from the Department for Local Government's Recreational Trails Program (RTP), will address expansion joint maintenance and repairs on piers. Funds will also help with upgrades to electric and water service, the stripping of old road markings and resurfacing of blacktop areas.
"When you think about what this bridge means and what it brings to this community, standing on it on a day like today, shows how critical it is for both sides of this river," Beshear said.
While most of it will go toward cosmetic changes, managers of the 150-year-old bridge plan to throw in another $35,000 in hopes of building momentum toward bigger projects like repainting. Will Weber, president of the Newport Southbank Bridge Company, said they are fundraising for that now.
"I think this is the first step in a series of steps," Weber said. "It's certainly a catalyst and should be a spark as we let the community know on both sides of the river that we need to put the purple back in the Purple People Bridge, and if we can maintain this trail and this bridge moving forward, that should give us just the right amount of momentum for public and private partners alike to help us raise that $1.5 million to finally paint the bridge again."
The governor also awarded Newport $200,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to construct play areas at Festival Park. Beshear's office said the project will also improve ADA-compliant access to the upper and lower terraces of the park.
Alexandria is getting $31,000 from the LWCF to construct a larger picnic shelter at Alexandria Community Park.
“Each year we see the increasing popularity of our park, and this welcome addition will provide many with a shady spot to enjoy the outdoors, for years to come,” Alexandria Mayor Andy Schabell said.
The RTP is funded by the Federal Highway Administration, while LWCF funds undergo a federal review and receive approval from the National Park Service.