After extended closure, Purple People Bridge will (partially) reopen July 1

Bridge has been closed since May 11
Purple People Bridge
Posted at 11:22 AM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 21:48:18-04

NEWPORT, Ky. — After more than six weeks out of commission, the Purple People Bridge will partially reopen July 1, officials announced Wednesday afternoon.

The mixed-use pedestrian bridge closed May 11 after some stone fragments fell from one of the bridge's piers. In the time since, investigators have worked to assess the extent of repair or restoration work needed on the span that connects Newport on the Levee in Northern Kentucky to East Pete Rose Way along Cincinnati's riverfront.

Engineers determined the portion of the bridge south of the pier closest to the bridge's Ohio foot can be reopened safely while crews conduct repairs, according to Jack Moreland of the Newport Southbank Bridge Company and development agency Southbank Partners.

"Until those repairs are made, access will be limited to the Kentucky side of the bridge," Moreland said in a news release. "Pedestrians will be able to walk on the bridge up until the state line but will not be permitted to walk the length of the bridge between Ohio and Kentucky until repairs are made on the Ohio side of the bridge."

Crews will install barriers at the state line, near the pier that needs repairing, to prevent people from crossing over from the Ohio side.

The bridge's closure has disrupted the first several weeks of the popular summer festival Party on the Purple, forcing it to relocate to nearby Festival Park. Wednesday's news release noted that officials will determine at a later date when major public events on the bridge can return.

Along with the Purple People Bridge, the nearby John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge has been closed for a restoration project since earlier this year. Further downriver, the Brent Spence Bridge has operated at restricted capacity as crews repaint and refinish its metal buttresses.

Both projects are expected to extend through November.

Moreland said engineers were still determining when repair work on the Purple People Bridge would conclude. Options range from a patch job that would last a year to a more in-depth repair that would hold up for the next century.

"I'd be shocked if we could find enough money to do the hundred-year fix because that's a pretty substantial amount of money," Moreland said. "But I do feel like we'll be able to do the intermediate fix."