Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Shortway Bridge soon to go away

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

It's been standing for 88 years as a link for commuters between 11th street in Newport and 12th Street in Covington.Next month, it will crash into the Licking River and be shipped to a junkyard.

The 360-foot Shortway Bridge, closed two years ago to make way for the new $10.2 million Licking Valley Girl Scout Bridge, will be dismantled with explosives by CRS Demolition of Louisville.

CRS, awarded the $380,000 contract by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, plans to remove the steel structure sometime in June.

"We've done three or four of these in the past. It's pretty routine," said Jon Davies, president of the 12-year-old firm.

"We'll remove any unnecessary steel and do some pre-cutting, then use explosives to bring it down."

Davies said the bridge will collapse into six pieces before being dismantled and taken by barge to a junkyard for recycling.

According to Joe Gastright of the Kenton County Historical Society, another bridge was originally built in that spot in 1891, but collapsed during construction, killing dozens of people.

It was rebuilt soon after, and then rebuilt again in 1914 - in the form of the bridge standing now. It opened in 1915, closing in 2001.

"It was a 10-cent toll to ride over each way and a penny to walk," said Gastright. "I've been told it's the last truss bridge of that design in the country, where all the big beams meet in triangles to give the bridge its strength."

As far as saving part of the bridge, "I think they took some plaques off it, but you really can't collect bridges," said Gastright.

Newport has asked for the handrails from the bridge, which will be taken off by CRS before demolition.

"As always, we want to preserve history, and we may be able to use the ornamental railing in a project in the riverfront area," said Newport City Manager Phil Ciafardini.

"The bridge served a valuable purpose, but was winding and narrow, and not a great structure for traffic," he said.

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