Spanning the Ohio River, the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge connects Covington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio and carries U.S. Routes 42 and 127.
The Clay Wade Bailey Bridge opened to traffic on October 21, 1974 (2) at a cost of $13.5 million, and was named by Governor Louie Nunn for Bailey, a reporter who spent most of his 46-year newspaper career as a Frankfort, Kentucky correspondent for The Kentucky Post.(1) The new span was constructed adjacent to the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Railroad Bridge.
Prior to the construction of the new bridge, local traffic flowing between Covington and Cincinnati crossed the Ohio River via the Roebling Bridge or Central Bridge. The C&O Railroad Cincinnati Bridge, constructed between 1886 and 1889, was a railroad-only span that was retrofitted in 1929 for automobile use when the C&O constructed a new bridge over the river adjacent to the older span. The retrofitted bridge was later demolished and replaced with the new Clay Wade Bailey bridge.(2)
The new span followed the alignment of the original C&O Bridge from 1889, and used one of the original main piers which limited the new bridge’s lanes to three.(2) It’s 675 ft. main span length was identical to the adjacent railroad bridge from 1929. A second C&O pier was extended west, creating a shared pier that dates to 1929 and 1974. The northern pier of the 1889 C&O Bridge was removed, which allowed a wide 675 ft. navigation channel along the river.
In 2000, the Bailey Bridge’s northern approach in Cincinnati was retrofitted with a ramp to 2nd Street.(2) Four years later, the Clay Wade Bailey underwent a $2.5 million rehabilitation. Although the Commonwealth of Kentucky owned the bridge, the Ohio Department of Transportation was placed in charge of the ongoing project that involved replacing the deck joints and resurfacing the three-lane span.(1)
- Designation: U.S. Routes 42, 127
- Crosses: Ohio River
- Bridge type: Cantiliver
- Main span length: 675 ft.
- Number of lanes: 3