Historic Cincinnati bridge closed for repairs after car crashes into beam

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Updated Mar 31, 2018
The 151-year-old John Roebling Bridge will be closed until repairs can be made after a car smashes into a vertical beam.The 151-year-old John Roebling Bridge will be closed until repairs can be made after a car smashes into a vertical beam.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet reports that it is awaiting a final proposal for repair of the 151-year-old John A. Roebling Bridge between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Convington, Kentucky.

KTC said the bridge, which was a prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge, would probably not reopen until June after a car crashed into one of its vertical members March 20. The beam, which is now cracked and distorted, was installed in the late 1890s to help strengthen the original structure, KTC says.

KTC closed the bridge to vehicular traffic after the crash. On March 23, “after observing an increase in pedestrian traffic on the surface of the bridge,” it closed the walkway, as well, for public safety.

“We are waiting for a final proposal for the repair of the bridge,” KTC says. “We estimate the repairs to be complete by June. Once the repairs are done, the bridge will be back open to pedestrian and vehicular traffic.”

The suspension bridge opened in 1867. At the time, its 1,057-foot central span was deemed the longest in the world, according to the Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge Committee. John Roebling, who designed the Brooklyn Bridge, was the chief engineer on the Covington-Cincinnati Bridge.

The bridge was considered for replacement in 1894 with a non-suspension span to handle electric street cars, which were overtaking horse-drawn cars. Engineer Willhelm Hildenbrand, who had assisted Roebling with the design of the Brooklyn Bridge, offered an another solution, and in 1895, he bolstered the bridge with two additional steel cables and a new steel truss and floor beam system, among other improvements, according to the bridge committee. His improvements also included the vertical beam that was damaged in the car crash March 20.

Kentucky bought the bridge in 1953 from the Covington-Cincinnati Bridge Company. The bridge was designated a national historic landmark in 1975.

When open, the bridge handles about 8,000 cars a day.

Along with vehicular traffic, the pedestrian walkway will also be closed.Along with vehicular traffic, the pedestrian walkway will also be closed.