Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Big push is on to repaint Roebling

Funding precedes choice of color

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Kentucky transportation officials plan to lobby the 2002 General Assembly for the entire $6.4 million that they estimate it will cost to paint the historic John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.

        That's nearly half of all the money the state has earmarked to cover every bridge in the state.

        This year, there's $14.5 million in a state bridge maintenance fund that covers 6,000 bridges, said Don Herd, branch manager for bridge preservation in the Transportation Cabinet's Frankfort office.

        “Even if we were to use some of those funds, you would have to deal with (bridge repairs) before you spent anything on painting,” Mr. Herd said.

        Should the state legislature decide to allocate additional funds for repainting the historic span linking Covington and Cincinnati, the soonest that money would become available would be July, Mr. Herd said. At the other extreme, it could be up to six years before the funds are available, he said.

        “The funding has to be set aside before we make a final decision on what color to paint the bridge,” said Rob Hans, bridge engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's district office in Fort Mitchell.

        During the summer, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's online poll showed 58 percent of respondents favored blue, 12 percent wanted the bridge painted green, and 10 percent preferred beige.

        In June, Covington Mayor Butch Callery vowed to “put the full-court press” on state officials, after the Covington City Commission went on record favoring Wildcat blue.

        If the color controversy isn't resolved by January, Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, has said that he might call for a joint House-Senate resolution to get the bridge painted Kentucky blue.

        Members of the board of directors for the Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge Committee, a volunteer group dedicated to preserving and enhancing the National Historic Landmark, said Monday that they likely will call a special meeting within the next few months to endorse a color.

        Although most committee members favored blue, they differed over what shade of blue to paint the bridge that served as the prototype for Roebling's better-known Brooklyn Bridge.


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