Roebling Bridge closing mess up your commute? You have options

Officials: The closure will last 'indefinitely'
Roebling Bridge closing mess up your commute? You have options
Posted at 2:02 PM, Mar 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-23 10:57:31-04

COVINGTON, Ky. -- A serious crash early Wednesday morning caused police and transportation engineers to close the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge to all traffic "indefinitely," leaving some Northern Kentucky commuters having to recalibrate their routes to and from work.

The Roebling carries about 8,100 vehicles per day, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

It's not just motorists whose commutes the closure could disrupt: The Roebling Bridge also carries the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky's popular Southbank Shuttle service back and forth across the river. This will mean a small route extension, so those who park in Covington and take the shuttle should allow for an extra few minutes each way.

RELATED: NKY congestion on Brent Spence impacts more than just Covington

Pedestrians who use the bridge? Officials closed the bridge's walkways Friday while engineers assess damage. 

That's bad news for Reds fans who want to use the bridge on Opening Day, March 29. 

In an update Thursday, KYTC District 6 said a "vertical member" added to the bridge in the late 1890s was damaged in the crash. They're still working to determine all the needed repairs.

For all you motorists, luckily Greater Cincinnati's stretch of the Ohio River has no shortage of bridges -- five connecting directly to downtown Cincinnati alone.

Commuters who rely on the Roebling have numerous alternative options during the temporary closure. Scroll down for a map of alternative routes:

The Clay Wade Bailey Bridge

The Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, as seen from the Covington approach toward downtown Cincinnati. (Google Maps)

Located at the north end of Covington's Main Street at Fourth Street in Mainstrasse Village, the Clay Wade is only a few blocks away from the Roebling, and connects directly to Second and Third streets in Downtown's southwestern end.

Commuters not used to this bridge should know that the center lane switches direction depending on the time of day. Traffic signals indicate which lanes are traveling in which direction and when.

The Brent Spence Bridge

Yes, it might be a thorn in Greater Cincinnati's side when it comes to its reputation for heavy congestion and crashes, but the Brent Spence can offer a sometimes quick alternative.

Covington's westbound Fourth Street ends at a northbound on-ramp onto the bridge -- a ramp that turns into its own lane on the bridge. That means no merging is necessary if you're trying to get to Second Street Downtown.

If you need to access Fifth Street, you'll have to merge one lane to the left.

Northbound I-71/75 on the Brent Spence Bridge crossing from Covington into downtown Cincinnati. (Google Maps)

Veterans Memorial/Taylor Southgate bridges

A final alternative to the Roebling: Taking the Veterans Memorial (Fourth Street) Bridge across the Licking River into Newport, then crossing the Taylor Southgate Bridge into Downtown.

The Veterans Memorial Bridge is located at the intersection of Fourth and Garrard streets in Covington. Because Fourth Street is a one-way in the wrong direction, those using the bridge to get to Newport need to approach either northbound or southbound on Garrard.

The intersection of Fourth and Garrard streets, at the foot of the Veterans Memorial/Fourth Street Bridge in Covington. (Google Maps)

This alternative might be worth testing out before relying on it.

First, both sides of the Veterans Bridge are full of one-way streets, so a familiarity of which street will take you in which direction is important.

Second -- and more importantly -- the Veterans Bridge dumps right into Newport's new, massive roundabout configuration at Fourth and Fifth streets. The new roundabout is not exactly the most intuitive, maintaining two lanes throughout its entire circumference. Here's a short peek at how it works, coming from the Newport side:

This roundabout is one of two that motorists will have to navigate to access the Taylor Southgate Bridge from the Veterans Memorial Bridge. The second is at the foot of the Taylor Southgate, with a much simpler, one-lane configuration.

RELATED: Will Cincy drivers ever learn how to use roundabouts?

Here's a map that points out each bridge's location, relative to the Roebling Bridge. To zoom, use the +/- buttons in the bottom left corner:

Pat LaFleur reports on transportation and mobility for WCPO. Connect with him on Twitter (@pat_laFleur) and on Facebook.