Department of Highways, District 6
Roebling Bridge cleaning, painting scheduled

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, October 20, 2009  
Contact Information:  Nancy Wood
Public Information Officer

$16.2 million project includes new blue coat for the landmark


COVINGTON, Ky. — A $16.2 million project to rehabilitate the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge will begin Oct. 30.  Minor structural repairs, cleaning and painting will take place during the next year.


“This project is needed to preserve this magnificent bridge for generations to come,” said Rob Hans, chief engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s northern Kentucky district. “The structure will receive a blue coat slightly darker than its current shade. It’s a color that will reflect the structure’s history and will blend nicely with its surroundings.”


Crews will make minor, preparatory repairs from Oct. 30 to Nov. 15. The bridge will be closed for two consecutive weekends; beginning Friday, Oct. 30. The weekend closures will be from 8 p.m. on Fridays until 5 a.m. on Mondays. Motorists should watch for weekday lane closures during the period.


Painting of one section — the Ohio approach — will begin Oct. 26. That work isn’t expected to impact traffic and should be complete by Dec. 15, 2009.


Rigging for the main project, which includes intricate paint removal, cleaning and priming of the historic steel, will be erected in February 2010. The main project will begin Wednesday, April 7, after opening day for the Cincinnati Reds.


The bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic during the main project. Traffic may detour via the Taylor Southgate (US 27) bridge, in Newport, or the Clay Wade Bailey (US 25) bridge in Covington.  For pedestrians, one sidewalk will remain open throughout the project.


“We realize that closing this bridge to vehicular traffic represents a significant disruption to motorists in northern Kentucky and Cincinnati,” Hans said. “Unfortunately, a project of this size and scope requires closure to ensure a safe and timely completion.”


The project is scheduled to be complete by Nov. 15, 2010.


Project timeline

Oct. 26: Work begins on Ohio approach. No traffic impact expected. To be complete by Dec. 15, 2009.


Oct. 30 – Nov. 16: preparatory repair work. Bridge will be closed on weekends from 8 p.m. each Friday to 5 a.m. each Monday. Lane closures are possible during weekdays.


February 2010: Rigging for the main project to go up.


April 7, 2010: Main project to begin. Bridge will be closed.


Nov. 15, 2010: Project completion.



Roebling facts


·        John A Roebling was born in Germany in 1806.  He came to the United States in 1831 to practice his profession.


·        In the mid-1800s, Cincinnati was a leading inland port with an abundance of ferry traffic from Newport and Covington to Cincinnati. A bridge was needed.  Roebling, an engineer, submitted a design and was awarded the project. 


·        Excavation work for towers began in 1856.


·        A decade of construction was interrupted by funding shortfalls and the Civil War.  The bridge opened to pedestrians in December 1866.


·        The 1,057-foot main span was at the time the longest in the world.  It cost $1.8 million.


·        Roebling used the same techniques to design the Brooklyn Bridge, which surpassed the Cincinnati Bridge in length and every other statistic when it opened in 1883.


·        Roebling died in New York in 1869 of injuries sustained on the construction site of the Brooklyn Bridge.


·        The Roebling Bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1982.


·        Kentucky purchased the bridge in 1953 for $4.2 million. The state collected tolls until 1963 when the Brent Spence Bridge was opened downriver on Interstate 75


·        Since 1976, the Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge Committee, a non-profit group, has been dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the Roebling Bridge.  The committee is currently raising money to fund upgrades to the decorative necklace lighting. For more information go to


·        The bridge, known locally as the Suspension Bridge or the Singing Bridge, was named in honor of Roebling in 1983.


·        In 2006, a $3.1 million project made repairs to the steel grid bridge deck as well as the supporting beams beneath the deck. All wiring for roadway lighting, pedestrian lighting and navigational lighting was upgraded. 


·        The bridge was last fully painted in 1976.


Vimas Painting Co., of Campbell, Ohio, was awarded the cleaning and painting contract. M & M Services Co., of Mount Sterling, Ky., was awarded the $77,000 contract for repair work.