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Purple People Bridge closed for public safety after stone falls from pier

Purple People Bridge
Posted at 3:38 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 09:10:41-04

Police rushed to close the Purple People Bridge Tuesday afternoon after a stone fell from the first pier, according to a tweet posted by the city of Cincinnati.

“This has loosened one of the stones directly underneath,” a city representative wrote around 3 p.m.

The city did not provide an anticipated time the bridge, which connects Cincinnati to Newport, would reopen.

"Access will be restricted until a qualified structural engineer can review the structure and determine when it is safe for the public to return to the bridge," reads a statement from the Newport Southbank Bridge Company, which owns the Purple People Bridge. "We will continue to work with the cities of Newport and Cincinnati on this evolving situation."

For businesses in Covington and Newport, the closure is just another bridge hindering traffic and potential income from Cincinnati to their side of the river.

"Well, certainly by having them closed as they are now, or half-closed, it makes you realize how much we took them for granted, and how much we depend on them," said Richard Hunt, owner of Roebling Point Books and Coffee in Covington.

The bridge for which his business was named closed to vehicles in February and isn't slated to reopen until November.

Lane closures along the Brent Spence Bridge also have plagued commuters in the Tri-State region since February.

"I don't think anyone wants to be an expert in bridge closures," said Hunt. "It's like becoming experienced in living through 12 floods. Sooner or later, you want to move."

Hunt said the closure of the Purple People Bridge could specifically impact bicyclist safety, forcing anyone on a bike to take the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge or the Taylor Southgate Bridge.

He also said he hopes that, moving forward, there's more transparency when bridge inspections are done, so people know they are safe while on them.

"I think when you get a notice like today, it sounds like a three-alarm fire going on," said Hunt. "You wonder how it could've gotten this far."