Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Pedestrian bridge set to open April 25

By Dave Niinemets
Enquirer contributor

NEWPORT - Pedestrians can look forward to an April 25 opening of the big purple bridge connecting Cincinnati and Newport.

"It's going pretty much on schedule," said Wally Pagan, executive director of Southbank Partners, which is heading up the L&N pedestrian bridge project. "The painters are almost finished. We're ready to put some of the work on the bridge out to bid."

That work includes concrete improvements, electrical work and new security cameras. Mr. Pagan said a dry summer allowed for the painting to stay on schedule.

Michelle Class of Fort Thomas can't wait until the bridge is opened. She said she and her husband plan on making good use of it.

"We do attend a lot of the festivals that are on both sides; Sawyer Point and Riverboat Row," Mrs. Class said. "But we end up just staying on one side or the other. Now we'll be able to go to both."

She said it also will be nice when she attends Reds' games.

"Any time we do go to a Reds' game, we walk over the (Taylor-Southgate) bridge," she said. "It will be nice to have a fun new bridge just for us to walk on."

Officials appear to have settled some concerns over ownership of the bridge. Currently, it is property of the commonwealth of Kentucky, and the original plan was for state government to turn it over to Newport once it's complete. But Newport officials were concerned over liability, so the Newport-Southbank Bridge Corporation will be created to assume ownership.

"The new entity will hold the liability," said Mr. Pagan, who expects the ownership change to come sometime in January.

There are also plans to use the bridge for a streetcar system. Tracks could be added where train tracks were on the bridge.

One other section will be for bikes, pedestrians and in-line skaters, and another will serve as an emergency lane.

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