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Bicycling community advocates for improvements to Fourth Street Bridge in NKY

Monday, May 11, 2020 by Wade Johnston

Tri-State Trails and several organizations in the bicycling community of Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati are partnering to advocate for improvements to the Fourth Street Bridge between Newport and Covington, Kentucky. Representatives from ReNewport, Ride the Cov, Southbank Partners, Vision Zero NKY, Reser Bicycle Outfitters, Cincinnati Cycle Club, Queen City Bike, and Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance have all pledged their support. You can read our letter to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet below.

Now is the time

It’s well documented that the Fourth Street Bridge is functionally obsolete and has surpassed its useful lifespan. This bridge is a critical connection between the Northern Kentucky river cities and the Riverfront Commons trail. The best solution is a new bridge, which is estimated to cost $20.1 to $24.8 million. But that will take at least five to seven years–in a best case scenario.

With physical distancing likely to be in place for the foreseeable future, the existing sidewalks on the bridge are unsafe during this era of COVID-19. We feel now is the perfect opportunity to repurpose the northern wesbound travel lane to permanently create more room for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Recent Closures

On April 14, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6 closed the Fourth Street Bridge between Covington and Newport, Kentucky to perform a structural inspection.

The inspection revealed corrosion on a primary load-bearing member of the bridge. A day later, KYTC closed the bridge until further notice to vehicle traffic. For a couple days, we got a glimpse of what a safer connection for pedestrians and bicyclist through this corridor would look like.

On April 17, the bridge reopened with a reduced weight limit of 3 tons. The northern westbound lane of traffic was closed to traffic until emergency repairs can be made.

Next Steps

KYTC responded to our request on May 11 and indicated they are exploring options to create additional space for bikes and pedestrians on the Fourth Street Bridge. We are hopeful that this will lead to a tangible solution to improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists as quickly as possible.

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