Power to the Purple People Bridge. Pedestrian span awarded fix-up funding

The Purple People Bridge is crossed about a million times a year. All by people power. That kind of connection needs some care.

The state awarded a grant to the city of Newport for improvements to the pedestrian bridge that connects Kentucky to Ohio. The award of $175,000 will be used to address maintenance needs, specifically the expansion joints between bridge sections and sandstone repairs on the bridge piers.

The project will also include improving electric and water service and spiffing up the bridge deck by stripping former roadway markings and resurfacing the blacktop areas on the approach.

The funding comes from the state’s Department for Local Government’s Recreational Trails Program.

The bridge is considered the longest connector in the country that serves walkers and cyclists and links two states. It is also host to festivals and other events.

The bridge opened on April 1, 1872, seven years after the end of the Civil War, as the first railroad bridge spanning the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  It was known as the L&N Bridge for decades, although it was closed to rail traffic in 1987. In late 2001, the City of Newport and Southbank Partners received $4 million in state funds to paint and restore it.

Its owner at the time, CSX, donated its portion to the city of Newport, which transferred ownership to the Newport Southbank Bridge Co., a not-for-profit that owns and operates the half-mile span across the Ohio, and oversees its maintenance. 

“The Purple People Bridge unites our region, brings us all together and encourages us all to get outdoors,” says state Rep. Rachel Roberts, who represents part of Campbell County. The funding, she says, will “ensure that we can all continue to connect via the bridge.”
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David Holthaus is the managing editor of NKY Thrives, an award-winning journalist, and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.