The Cropper Bridge is the western most Cincinnati, Ohio-metro crossing. It was completed in the late 1970s and serves Interstate 275.
Planning for a western Cincinnati-metro bridge over the Ohio River dated back to the 1950s, when travel to Indiana required Kentuckians to cross into Cincinnati and endure the congestion.(1) The project was envisioned by Boone County Judge Carroll Cropper and U. S. Rep. Earl Wilson of Indiana, stating that it would ease traffic on the Covington and Newport bridges by giving travelers a free flowing north to south option. Early plans showed a span linking Lawrenceburg, Indiana to a site in Boone County, Kentucky 1.5 miles east of Petersburg.
In April 1956, Congressman Wilson introduced a bill to create a Lawrenceburg Bridge Co. Wilson proposed financing bridge construction with a bond issue and then paying off the bonds with a toll.(1) Kentucky's U.S. Senators Earle C. Clements and Alben W. Barkley, and U.S. Representative Brent Spence pledged support for the proposal. Opponents, however, were not as excited, citing a potential drop in business for Covington, Newport and Cincinnati, and that a bridge in Boone County would compete with funds for a new Ohio River bridge in Covington.
A congressional act authorizing the bridge was passed, but planning and financing languished. One survey in 1958 estimated the cost of the bridge project at $10 million.(1) In March 1968, bids were accepted for the construction of piers for the bridge.(3) In June, construction began with a $2.2 million contract was awarded to build the four main piers in the Ohio River. The piers would be anchored to steel pilings driven 58 feet into the river bedrock. Pier construction took one year.
An artist's rendering in the Kentucky Post on May 9, 1968 showed that the finished span would be 1,759 feet long and constructed in three spans. Completion was expected in 1970.(3)
By spring 1970, federal officials were ready to seek bids for the bridge approaches, and Kentucky transportation officials were also ready to let contracts out for construction of a four-lane roadway leading to the bridge. Indiana officials, however, were lagging triggering some to nickname the bridge the "span to nowhere."(3)
In November 1970 The Nashville Bridge Co. was awarded a $9.6 million contract to construct 11 dry-land piers for the approaches.(3) Eight of the piers would be on the Indiana side, and three on the Kentucky side. Excavation work for the land piers began in January 1971 but was slowed by some slippage. Pier work was completed by summer 1972, when work began on the steel floor beams of the bridge.
By May 1974, the bridge was complete except for the deck, but it was a bridge to nowhere.(3) Indiana officials were still in the process of awarding contracts for Interstate 275 pavement from the bridge to Lawrenceburg. Finally, on December 6, 1977, the new Ohio River span opened to traffic.(2)(3)
- Main span length: 748 feet
- Total length: 1,759 feet
- Number of lanes: 4
- Reis, Jim. "I-75 changed face of northern Kentucky." Kentucky Post 8 July 2002. 26 Nov. 2007: 4K.
- Mecklenborg, Jake. "I-275 Caroll C. Cropper Bridge." Cincinnati-Transit. 26 Nov. 2007 Article.
- Reis, Jim. "Pieces of the past." Kentucky Post 24 May 1993. 26 Nov. 2007: 4K.