Matt Butler, president of the Devou Good Foundation, presented on the 4th Street Bridge design in Newport Monday night, highlighting pedestrian and cyclist safety.
The state is leading the 4th Street replacement bridge project, as it is a state-owned route paid for with state dollars; however, Devou Good is working with the cities of Covington and Newport, where the bridge runs, to get feedback on its design.
Newport City Manager Tom Fromme said forums like the one held at Monday’s commission meeting were necessary so that the state knows there is interest in how the bridge looks upon completion. He said it is essential to the city that the design is pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
“Some people throw in the term ‘iconic,’ yeah, I’d like to have a bridge like that, for sure, if we can pull it off,” Fromme said. “Forums like this are so the state knows there is interest in how the bridge looks when it’s finished.”
Through the process of designing the bridge, the phrase “once in a generation possibility” has come up about being able to provide input on a bridge’s design and functionality.
“Although we know this is a KYTC project, we’re here today because no one knows more about Newport, more about what makes it such a beautiful and great place to live than the people in this town and you, who we voted to represent us,” Newport resident Logan Baer said during the presentation.
The Devou Good Foundation received feedback from over 1,400 in a survey asking people about their preferred look of the bridge. They have also held events in Covington and Newport, such as a virtual reality event earlier this month that allowed people to immerse themselves in the project.
Jake Ryle with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet told LINK nky earlier this month that members of the public could continue to submit comments and suggestions about the project, which the design and aesthetic committee would consider.
Ryle explained that the bridge architect’s designs would be developed through consultation with an aesthetics committee of external stakeholders and a design team. The transportation cabinet is working with PCL Construction, Inc., Stantec Consulting Services, Inc., and Rosales + Partners, Inc. on the new bridge’s aesthetic, structural design, and construction.
The design option from Devou Good’s survey with the most votes was the “Spoke” option. Other aspects Butler said that the community preferred included three drive lanes with an embedded rail—in preparation for a future streetcar. One 16-foot shared-use path on the north side, including planters and benches with connections to all trails and parks. A complete teardown and rebuild of the shuttle service and LED lighting programable for events.
“Spoke was voted the most preferred design, not only by Newport residents but by everyone else,” Butler said.
The current bridge was built in the 1940s, and the transportation cabinet has deemed it functionally obsolete; however, vehicles and pedestrian and bicycle traffic travel over the bridge daily. Further, the sidewalks on the bridge are small, and the narrow drive lanes and concrete barriers separating the road from the walkways make the bridge dangerous for cyclists.
Ryle said the project’s estimated cost is $65 million.
During the design process, Butler said Devou Good utilized data from Fromme that 84% of drivers on the 4th Street Bridge drive over the speed limit. He said they considered that information when formulating the possibilities for the number of lanes, the width of the roadway, etc.
“It’s a bridge that has only three lanes, and there aren’t any shoulders, and drivers still feel very comfortable speeding on this bridge,” Butler said.
He said they also considered the “most vulnerable neighbors” in the design. According to Butler’s presentation, 40% of West Newport are zero-car households that utilize public transportation, biking, and walking.
Part of the Spoke design connects paths from the bridge to existing ones in Covington and Newport, like the River Front Commons Trail and the Licking River Greenway Trail.
“It incorporates so many of the things that I think that we do want,” Newport Commissioner Ken Rechtin said. “We need access to the top of the flood wall—pedestrian access, we need access to the riverfront—pedestrian access, and we need access to the other side of the flood wall.”
Rechtin said the design also is recognizable and would be something people see and think “Northern Kentucky.”
The Spoke Bridge has opportunities for people to use it, similar to the Purple People Bridge, where it is not just used to move traffic.
“One thing that we heard from residents over and over again was we really want a place to sit, to congregate to talk to each other, and really do enjoy the views,” Butler said.
Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli said this project creates a unique opportunity for the cities and residents to have input on the bridge’s look.
“KYTC, specifically Jim Gray, the current secretary, has been more open to these concepts and ideas than ever in history,” Guidugli said. “So, we have a unique point in time where exciting things are going to happen.”