The Roebling Bridge remains closed to vehicular traffic, as the restoration project to preserve the 154- year old landmark is still underway. The $4.7 million project focuses on masonry work, the repair and replacement of sections of sandstone on the north and south anchorages and towers, stabilizing the roadway, and minor sidewalk repair.
Due to the bridge’s status as a historic landmark, there are federal guidelines for restoration and rehabilitation that have been prescribed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The guidelines include matching construction materials as closely as possible to the original material, restoring any deteriorated or missing features to their original appearance, preserving features and building materials from the original, and removing things that were added later that don’t mesh with the original construction.
One of the most painstaking and exacting portions of the current project will be the restoration and surgical repair of several thousand square feet of masonry using a technique known as “dutchman.” The technique is used to repair cracked or eroded stone that can allow water to enter, then freeze and expand, which can cause the face of the stone to break off. In fact, some will remember that the bridge was closed back in April 2019 as a safety precaution after sandstone fragments actually did break from the east side of the north tower. This resulted in the installation of the temporary netting, and the bridge was reopened in August 2019. The dutchman restoration process involves fabricating and sizing the replacement pieces, matching them to original, setting them, and then fixing them to the original.
Because the stone is not being entirely replaced, the restoration company needs to match the color, texture, and grain size of the original as closely as possible. Lithko Restoration Technologies, who is performing the work, is up to the challenge and found a family-owned quarry in southeast Ohio, Waller Brothers Stone Co. in Scioto County, to shop stone slabs to the site. The majority of Lithko’s work will involve this scouring of the north and south towers to search and restore stone that needs repairing.
In addition to the stone work, the project will also involve road work. The entire approach to the bridge on the Cincinnati side will be rebuilt. And, both walkways will receive repairs. Currently, the plan is to have one walkway remain open at all times for pedestrians.
We encourage you to take advantage of the open walkways and our new self-guided QR code tours and come see the construction progress for yourself! The bridge is anticipated to reopen to traffic by the end of November and the overall project is expected to complete by the end of the year.