Work starts on redesigning Clay Wade Bailey Bridge Gateway

COVINGTON, Ky. – Emersion Design, LLC will help the City of Covington drastically improve both the look and function of a busy gateway that – to be polite – isn’t very inviting.

The company was awarded a contract after a vote of the Covington Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to redesign the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge Gateway into Covington from Cincinnati.

The redesign could address everything from lighting to traffic flow to signage to pedestrian accessibility – to “all the things that affect a space,” Assistant Economic Development Director Sarah Allan told the Commission.

The project area isn’t restricted to the intersection of Main and Fourth streets where the bridge ramp dumps out near the railroad trestle, but extends south, past Sixth and Main Streets, recognizing that a memorable entryway isn’t necessarily just a static point but may encompass a broader area, Allan said.

The contract and agreement is a next step based on recommendations made last October when the City’s Economic Development Department initiated a public conversation about how to improve that particular primary “front door” to make it more inviting.

Engaging the community

The Clay Wade Bailey Bridge is one of the primary routes into the city from Cincinnati to the north. Last October’s community engagement event brought together members of the City’s Public Works and Neighborhood Services departments, residents, business owners, patrons, and neighborhood groups who met at MainStrasse Village’s Goose Girl Fountain to talk about how to make the entry point more attractive.

The event was one of several such events recommended in the 2019 Garner Report which called for the City to create a plan to improve gateways into Covington, including new signage, landscaping, and beautification initiatives. Focus group participants at the time of that report indicated that the gateways into Covington are either nondescript or not aesthetically pleasing and that the lack of a memorable gateway sets an ambivalent or negative first impression of the community.

“We were able to find out what is top of mind from people who see these gateways, drive them, and live them day to day,” said Susan Smith, the City’s Business Attraction Manager, about the event. “Aesthetics is the obvious piece, but unless one drive the gateways day to day, how would you know about traffic flow?”

Smith said that after hearing from several residents who expressed concern about the difficulty in attempting a left turn onto Fourth Street from Main Street, heading north, the City shared those concerns with KYTC District 6, which took action and added a left turn signal from Main Street onto Fourth Street.

Enhancing aesthetics

With regard to aesthetics, Smith said that after people expressed frustration about the cluttered signage on the fence of a nearby local business, the City communicated that information with the business owner who subsequently removed the signs.

“Be sure to take note the next time you are driving into Covington from Clay Wade Bailey Bridge,” said Smith. “Don’t let it be like the day when you get your braces off after wearing them for two-years, no one notices.”  

Smith points out that making improvements to the gateways is a team effort.

“It takes effort from everyone – citizens, businesses, neighborhoods, the railroad, local and state government to implement changes in some instance,” said Smith. “It’s truly a team sport.”    

Next steps

Emersion Design, LLC will create 3 preliminary Gateway and Streetscape Plan Concepts for review, then develop one final schematic design to consist of plans, elevations, and point of view renderings of the gateway design that illustrates recommended solutions for:

  • Gateway features and aesthetic of roadway infrastructure
  • Streetscape layout of roadway infrastructure
  • Lighting
  • Traffic calming
  • Signage
  • Pedestrian amenities
  • Furnishings, etc.
  • Other improvements for safety, functionality, etc.

Allan said the process will include coordinating with the KYTC, CSX, local businesses, the Brent Spence Bridge Design Committee, and others.

Emersion Design, LLC has 4 months from the contract effective date to complete the design portion of the project.

“We have given all the data from the community to Emersion, but we’ll likely also have a small focus group involved that will likely include people in the community,” said Allan. “After we hear from the focus groups, Emersion will come up with designs. Once a design is selected, we’ll get bids for construction.”


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