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Officials: Roebling Bridge repairs necessary to keep its historic integrity

Posted: 3:29 PM, Feb 21, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-21 20:19:28-05
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COVINGTON, Ky. — Making repairs to a 153-year-old bridge takes a lot of TLC, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesperson Nancy Wood said.

Next year, officials will close the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge to repair structural damage to the bridge’s stone towers. The closure could last nine months.

Parts of the bridge’s towers are crumbling because water gets into cracks and pieces come loose, Wood said.

“We’ve been chipping away at it for several years, but … to keep the integrity of the bridge we can’t keep doing that,” Wood said.

Fixing the stone towers of the National Historic Landmark won’t be a simple task. Contractors will have to follow special steps to maintain the bridge’s historic integrity.

“To keep it looking like it has been for the past 150 years we have to replicate the stone and we have to have approval from the state, the Historic Preservation Office, so there is a lot more into it,” Wood said. “If this was a regular bridge we would just go in and pour concrete and waterproof.”

Wood said the stone repair could cost up to $9 million.

Covington City Manager David Johnston said he understands closing the bridge impacts the city’s small businesses.

“It’s more than just an engineering fix, we have to keep it working,” Johnston said. “So they have assured us that through the time that they will close it, probably in 2021, that they will keep pedestrian access going.”

The deck of the bridge also needs work, but there is no timeline yet for those repairs.