NEWPORT, KY (FOX19) - After years of planning, we finally know when the giant Ferris wheel planned in Newport will open to the public.
The $13 million SkyWheel at Newport on the Levee will be finished and open in late 2018, according to Woolpert – the engineering firm hired to handle the project.
Woolpert announced the contracting deal Friday. It comes after two years of development talks and structural concerns for the 20-story high Ferris wheel.
SkyWheel Newport will be approximately 235 feet above the Ohio River with 30 gondaloas that hold six passenger each. The gondolas would be enclosed and could operate year-round.
It will be built north of the Newport Aquarium and Mitchell's Fish Market in the Newport Festival Park area, between the Taylor Southgate Bridge and the Purple People Bridge.
Foot traffic will be able to freely flow underneath the wheel area, which means the frequent festival tents and food vendors can be brought in the same as they are today.
Plans for SkyWheel Newport have been discussed for several years, but were delayed due to flood protection concerns.
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) requires that the SkyWheel project will not degrade the structural integrity of the levee, so we had to move the structural base about 80 feet north, off the levee," Woolpert Engineering Project Manager Mike Timko said. "Levees are federally protected flood control structures and are regulated by the USACE."
Woopert current base design is anticipated to be resubmitted for approvals to the USACE this month, and construction is expected to begin in the spring. The SkyWheel Newport should open for business in late 2018.