Friday, September 21, 2001

Keep the bridge blue, says veteran

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — In keeping with the spirit of patriotism sweeping the country,a Tristate World War II veteran is lobbying to keep the Roebling Suspension Bridge blue.

        “After last week's events, I think the general public would say, "Yes, paint it blue,”' said Don Schiman, who also supports keeping the historic landmark blue for aesthetic reasons. “Keeping the American flags flying over the blue bridge will ensure that it remains a distinctive landmark, both (in the Tristate) and throughout the country.”

What color should the bridge be?
        A Marine during World War II, Mr. Schiman fought in a number of battles, including Guadalcanal. The 82-year-old Liberty Township resident also is a charter member of the Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge Committee, formed in 1975 to preserve and enhance the national historic landmark.

        Built in 1867 by engineer John A. Roebling, the bridge linking Covington and Cincinnati served as the prototype for Mr. Roebling's most ambitious project — New York City's Brooklyn Bridge — which was opened in 1883.

        After last week's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, Mr. Schiman said he expects his fellow members on the Suspension Bridge committee will support keeping the span blue.

        State transportation engineers originally proposed painting the bridge sandstone tan because it more closely resembled the bridge's original color. However, in the Transportation Cabinet's poll taken June 25-July 25, Wildcat Blue led with 58 percent of the votes. The more costly red, white and blue color scheme finished with 2 percent in the July poll.

        No decision has been made on a bridge color.

        “We're still evaluating paint systems and trying to come up with a final cost estimate,” said Rob Hans, bridge engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Northern Kentucky office. On Thursday, workers restricted traffic on the Suspension Bridge as they tested different types of paints, as well as techniques for removing the existing paint.

        The $6.5 million paint job is expected to begin next year, after the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet secures funding.

        “I think a blue color that matches the blue in the flag would be good,” said Covington Mayor Butch Callery. “In light of what's happened recently, I think it'd be a nice tribute to all those who gave their lives.”


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