One of the most iconic locations in Bowling Green is the College Street pedestrian bridge.
The location of the bridge has long been an entryway to downtown Bowling Green, with the first span crossing the Barren River there built in the mid-1800s. That bridge was burned by retreating Confederate forces in 1862. A new bridge at the location met a similar fate, being destroyed by a fire in 1915. The current bridge is the one rebuilt that year.
While it no longer carries vehicles, the College Street bridge still sees plenty of traffic. Along with casual strollers, the bridge has become a popular scenic backdrop for photographers.
While the bridge has been regularly maintained, the 106-year-old structure needs some work.
The Bowling Green City Commission last week approved applying for a $1.6 million Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for Transportation Alternatives Program grant that would be matched with $400,000 from the city.
For the $2 million, piers and decking would be repaired and new lighting installed. The biggest expense, however, would be for repainting the bridge.
“Back in the day, lead paint was what was used” to paint structures like bridges, city Public Works Director Greg Meredith said. There are “a ton of bridges around the country that still have lead paint,” he said.
While the lead paint on the pedestrian bridge is covered with layers of new paint, part of the $2 million would be used to strip off all the layers of paint to solve the lead issue permanently.
The pedestrian bridge is the iconic backdrop of an area slated to undergo millions of dollars in renovations as part of a broader effort to develop the riverfront into what has been called an “outdoor adventure area” with many new park amenities.
We have strongly supported that effort to revitalize an underutilized area of the community.
Repairing and sprucing up the pedestrian bridge is a logical and needed part of the worthy endeavor. It will help ensure that the bridge will remain a Bowling Green icon for many more decades.