Big day on the Riverfront

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - Friday is a big day for Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, as officials showed off some new improvements and features on the Riverfront.

The John A. Roebling Bridge officially reopened to traffic Friday afternoon. The landmark bridge had been closed to motorists since April 7, 2010 during a $16.3 million painting project.

"This painting project is the final piece in the ongoing repairs and maintenance of our regional icon," said Rob Hans, Chief District Engineer for KYTC District 6. "There has been a coordinating effort by both sides of the river to accomplish the many exciting things happening in the area surrounding this magnificent bridge."

The bridge was painted a darker shade of blue, and the fresh coat should last another 30 years. In addition, the necklace lights were also replaced with energy-efficient bulbs.

"This bridge has been instrumental in bringing people together, and it is a landmark of this area in every sense of the word," said Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock.

During the project, crews used 20,000 gallons of paint, five miles of cable, 3.6 miles of fencing, 500,000 gallons of diesel fuel to run equipment, 1,800 paint brushes and 3,000 paint roller sleeves and 160,000 man hours.

But the reopening of the bridge wasn't the only milestone happening on Friday. Near the foot of the Ohio side of the bridge, a dedication ceremony was held Friday morning at Mehring Way.

Mehring Way from Main Street/Joe Nuxhall Way to Elm Street was relocated north to allow more greenspace at the site of the Banks project. The greenspace is the future home of the Cincinnati Riverfront Park.

In addition, the Central Riverfront Garage is now open, giving downtown 1,100 additional parking spaces. Eventually, the garage will house 6,000 spaces. The garage has two entrances - one on East Pete Rose Way and one on Joe Nuxhall Way/Main Street. The cost is $75 a month or $4.50 per day.

The reopening of the bridge will also allow the Southbank Shuttle route to return to service beginning Nov. 13.

The Southbank Shuttle, which transports passengers to various hot spots along the riverfront, will now have eight new trolley vehicles that will accommodate the weight limit on the Roebling bridge.

"The new vehicles are key," said Jean Miller, TANK board chair. "The new Southbank Shuttle service will operate with eight lighter-weight trolley vehicles that will restore the direct transit connection between our riverfront cities while protecting the history integrity of the iconic bridge."

Southbank Shuttle routes will operate on a 15-minute frequency seven days a week and fare is $1 a ride.

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