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No end in sight for Roebling Bridge closure

Posted at 10:13 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 00:42:58-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials promised the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge would receive quick emergency repairs after its northern tower began shedding chunks of sandstone April 17, forcing the cabinet to shut down all vehicle traffic for drivers’ safety.

By Wednesday, two full weeks after the fragments fell, they had yet to announce where they planned to begin. People who live and work nearby said they hoped a fix would arrive soon.

“You get used to hearing it,” Norwood resident Henry Johnson said. “They say this bridge used to make a song when you roll over it.”

The problem: Like any instrument, the Roebling needs to be tuned with care. Public information officer Nancy Wood explained the day of the closure that the bridge’s historic status means repairs can’t just be functional — they need to preserve the structure and character of the 152-year-old span.

"To keep that aesthetic look to it, some of the design work will be working on to make sure it still looks the same as it did when it was built 152 years ago,” she said.

If the Roebling had only waited until 2020 to begin dropping debris, KYTC might have been able to take it in stride — officials were already planning an extensive restorative makeover for that spring.