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John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge to be closed to all traffic 'indefinitely'

Engineers assessing structural damage
Posted at 4:09 AM, Mar 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-23 10:47:19-04

COVINGTON, Ky. --  Drivers have been unable to access the Roebling Suspension Bridge since Wednesday, and now the bridge is closed to pedestrians as engineers assess damage from a Wednesday morning accident.

That accident damaged an extra vertical steel structure that was added in 1890 for strength.

People walked across the closed bridge Thursday without any problems, but engineers don’t want to take any chances since they've noticed an "increase of pedestrians" using the bridge since the accident. Officials closed the bridge to foot traffic Friday.

Officials had already planned on closing the bridge's walkways for the Reds' Opening Day. 

“You can get a lot of people in a small area,” said Richard Miller, a  professor of civil engineering at the University of Cincinnati. “That probably is more load than the cars would put on it.”

Police on both sides of the  bridge have already made plans to keep walkers and cars off.

 “We would hire extra officers on overtime to come down and man the bridge and make sure those conditions are acceptable,” said Lt. Col. Brian Steffen of Covington police.

Covington is already dealing with drivers expecting the bridge to be open.

“Luckily, there’s enough room for those vehicles to turn around,” Steffen said.

On the Ohio side, drivers may be surprised if they try to use the GPS on their phones.

“Their phone wants to take them a certain direction.  Well, you get there and you can’t get there,” said Cincinnati police Capt. Mike Neville.  “So, think through it as much as you can.

“We know it’s going to be an inconvenience, but we ask you to plan out your route, know which way you want to go, because you can’t get across that bridge."

Engineers continue to assess damage to the steel and whether it can be repaired or needs to be replaced with newer, modern steel.

“In the 1800’s, steels would have a strength of maybe 27,000 to 30,000 pounds per square inch.” Miller said. “Modern steels for a structural grade might go 50,000 or 70,000 pounds per square inch."

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet isn’t going to reopen the iconic span to vehicles or large groups of pedestrians until they’re sure they’ve examined every option.

RELATED: Here are some alternate routes