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Purple People Bridge fully reopened to public as Winter Nights River Lights holiday light display is on

Just in time for the holiday season, The Purple People Bridge fully reopened to the public Friday evening with a ribbon-cutting by local officials and the flipping of the switch for the Winter Nights River Lights holiday light display.

“We are thrilled to not only reopen the bridge today, but also kick off the annual Winter Nights River Lights holiday display,” said Newport Southbank Bridge Company President, Will Weber. “We thank the public and continued supporters of the bridge for their patience as we’ve worked diligently to reopen the bridge in a safe and timely manner.”

Winter Nights River Lights is made possible by Newport on the Levee, Corporex, CIG Communities, the Newport Foundation, Southbank Partners and the Newport Southbank Bridge Company. In addition to the lights, the display features the Wish Tree – which helps provide needy families with holiday presents, toys, clothes, sporting goods and school supplies – and Yarn Art installations on the Ohio and Kentucky approaches to the Bridge.

In a show of unity for the Greater Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky Region, Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli Jr. and Cincinnati Councilmember-elect Meeka Owens jointly cut the ribbon to reopen the Purple People Bridge.

The reopening was made possible by $354,000 in generous donations from the Devou Good Foundation, John and Sue Topits Foundation, RC Durr Foundation, Newport Foundation and the Newport Southbank Bridge Company. The donors were recognized during Friday’s festivities.

“The commitment to the community and the generosity from the donors is truly inspiring and made the reopening of the bridge possible,” Weber said.

The bridge closed May 11 after stones from Pier 1 reportedly fell into the Ohio River. The majority of the bridge reopened to pedestrians on July 1, but the northernmost portion remained closed until Friday.

According to WSP USA Inc., the engineering firm hired to design the needed repairs on the bridge, and Fenton Rigging & Contracting, the construction firm hired to complete the repairs, performed the installation and jacking of temporary supports that consist of steel spreader beams on timber cribbing.

WSP USA Senior Project Manager Wesley Weir said, with the temporary supports in place and functioning as designed, “WSP recommends that the Ohio Approach Spans to the bridge be reopened to the public for general use.”

WSP does recommend that all special event requests be evaluated individually until permanent repairs to the masonry stones are completed. The Newport Southbank Bridge Company estimates the permeant repairs will be complete by this upcoming summer.  

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