Roebling Suspension Bridge closed indefinitely

Brent Spence Bridge closure causes headaches for drivers

COVINGTON, Ky. (FOX19 NOW) - The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge is now closed indefinitely “due to numerous and continued violations of the bridge’s weight limits," Covington police announced late Wednesday.

Pedestrians can still walk across it, police clarified Thursday morning.

“Due to the inordinate amount of tractor trailer operators who are refusing to follow the weight limit on the suspension bridge, the John A Roebling Suspension Bridge will also be closed in both directions until further notice,” Covington Police Lt. Col. Brian Valenti said in a news release Wednesday.

“The weight limit on the bridge is only 11 tons. The weight of even an empty semi or a tractor alone far exceeds this limit,” he wrote.

"At this time there is no known damage to the suspension bridge. It is being closed as a precaution to not only ensure the safety of the bridge but also those who are attempting to use it. As we discovered during last years BLINK event, too much weight on the bridge can cause significant damage.

“Covington Police will continue to work with our state partners in addressing the use of the suspension bridge and the traffic flow issues created by this morning’s crash. Again, we ask for your patience and understanding as these issues are addressed.”

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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - The Roebling Suspension Bridge is currently being used as a detour as the Brent Spence Bridge remains closed, but according to our media partners at the Enquirer, despite the weight restrictions, several semi-tractor-trailers were seen crossing the historic bridge Wednesday.

No more, police say.

Effective Wednesday evening, the Covington Police Department said it will be “aggressively and strictly” enforcing the weight limit.

“All commercial vehicles exceeding the 11 Ton weight limit will be cited,” the department posted to Facebook at around 8:45 p.m.

>> Brent Spence Bridge will be closed ‘for several days at best,’ Gov. Beshear says

In less than an hour on Wednesday afternoon, an Enquirer reporter saw 12 semis cross the Roebling despite an 11-ton weight restriction meant to protect the suspension bridge from damage. This came following the the Brent Spence Bridge crash and fire, which closed the bridge until further notice.

The weight restriction on the Roebling was put in place after a 2007 inspection due to the conditions of the bridge and the need to preserve the structure for years to come, according to the Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge Committee.

The committee said the Kentucky-based Southbank Shuttles are now the heaviest vehicles permitted on the bridge.

>> Through the years: Brent Spence Bridge’s decades-long history

Semis were seen going across the bridge Wednesday afternoon despite warnings on either side about the weight restriction. An empty 18-wheeler can weigh over 17 tons and the maximum legal weight is 40 tons.

The 12 tractors seen crossing the Roebling Wednesday afternoon each had trailers.

On Wednesday afternoon, a semi blocked at the roundabout on the Ohio side of the bridge and a Cincinnati police officer arrived to start diverting semis away from the bridge. The officer did not stay. The Kentucky side had an officer arrive around rush hour.

The Cincinnati Police Department tweeted at 2 p.m.: "If you are operating a tractor trailer or any heavy truck looking for a way to get around the I-75 closure of the Brent Spence Bridge, the Roebling Bridge is NOT an alternate route!!!

The Roebling Suspension Bridge was opened in 1867. It’s historic, so let’s keep it that way!"

Cincinnati Police Lt. Steve Saunders said, “we are addressing this on our side of the river and I will contact the Covington Police Department to make them aware of this as well.”

The Roebling has seen several closures for repairs over the last two years. Its use as a detour comes after a crash and subsequent fire closed the Brent Spence Wednesday morning.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said inspectors have not yet been able to inspect the damage on the Brent Spence due to the intense heat from the fire. He said the bridge will be closed for several days and potentially several weeks.

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Copyright 2020 WXIX. All rights reserved. The Cincinnati Enquirer contributed to this report.