CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The process has begun to replace a pivotal Northern Kentucky bridge that connects Newport and Covington as large development projects get underway in each riverfront city.
The 4th Street Veterans Bridge, which runs over the Licking River, was temporarily closed to traffic in April due to deterioration.
At 84 years old and with nearly 14,000 daily vehicle users, the bridge is in need of replacement, according to Bob Yeager, chief district engineer for the Kentucky Department of Highways District 6.
The bridge was reopened later in April with lane reductions and weight limits.
Now Yeager confirms the planning and design process for a bridge replacement has begun.
He adds replacing the bridge could take six years or more.
Meanwhile, massive developments on either side of the Licking River highlight the importance of reliable infrastructure to the local economy.
On the Covington side, the former IRS site is primed to become a 23-acre mixed-use development.
Covington officials announced Tuesday the board of commissioners had authorized the city to issue $30 million in bonds to buy the site, demolish the IRS facility and prepare it for development.
The site has been described as “one of the most exciting land development opportunities between Baltimore and New Orleans," according to city officials.
Preliminary site plans call for a restored street grid, a levee park, a community plaza for festivals and a mixture of buildings comprising offices, retail shops and residential, according to the city.
Another large development is planned for the riverfront Corporex site in Newport, where a music venue began construction last year.
“As we look at new developments coming up, they are big," NKY Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brent Cooper said. "When we look at Newport on the Levee, the new music venue and the development on the IRS site, this is unprecedented around the country.
"There are not many riverfront development sites of that size and scale anywhere in the country. They need transportation. They need these bridges to be functional in order to succeed.”