C&O Bridge / Clay Wade Bailey Bridge

The C&O (1929) and Clay Wade Bailey Bridges stand immediately next to one another (pictured above), and share two piers in the middle of the river.  Today's Clay Wade Bailey Bridge opened in 1974 along the alignment of the original C&O Bridge (1889), and still uses one of its original main span piers.  It has a 675ft. main span identical to the adjacent "new" C&O.  The previously shared 1889/1929 southern pier was reused and the 2nd C&O's northern pier was extended west, creating a 1929/1974 shared pier. The old C&O's northern main span pier was dismantled, allowing a clear 675ft. navigation channel beneath.  As determined by the re-use of the 1889/29 pier, the deck was wide enough for three but not four lanes, resulting in a center variable-direction lane.  The bridge was named after Clay Wade Bailey, a prominant Kentucky newspaper reporter.  The "Clay Wade Bailey Bridge" has since caused confusion for those familiar with bridge terminology, since it is not a bailey bridge.

C&O and Clay Wade Bailey Bridges viewed from Covington. The
Brent Spence Bridge is visible to the left.    (Larry Stulz  photo)

A new exit ramp on the bridge's northern approach was built recently in summer 2000. The ramp connects with the top deck of the new bi-level 2nd St., which was built as the eastbound feeder road for the reconstructed Fort Washington Way. The Clay Wade Bailey Bridge is now more useful and should see increased traffic. Ramp construction destroyed the old staircase from the bridge's pedestrian walkway to Pete Rose Way, but a pedestrian walkway was built along the new 2nd St. ramp.  The walkway is a great place to watch the Cincinnati Bengals practice, since the team opened their new practice facility for the 2000 season immediately east of the north approach.

The Clay Wade Bailey Bridge's variable-direction lane was seen as a potential single track light rail crossing when initial plans were made in in 1997.  However after study the single-track bottleneck put it out of consideration and so the bridge will remain automobile only. There was also a brief investigation for use of the busy C&O tracks in a shared use arrangement, but this was eliminated as well. The current plan for light rail is to build a new double track bridge adjacent to either the eastern or western side of the existing C&O and Clay Wade Bailey bridges, at an estimated cost of $40 million. If this comes to pass, three bridges will be sandwiched together in a wild jumble 130 years in the making.

Recent Clay Wade Bailey Bridge Photos

News Archive
7/11/01 Cincinnati Enquirer  Witnesses say woman held kids over bridge's railing

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