NEWPORT, Ky. - The Commonwealth of Kentucky sees what the members of the Newport Southbank Bridge Company see; restaurants, bars and even a hotel on top of the Purple People Bridge.
Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson presented a state grant for $650,000 to study whether the idea would work Friday afternoon.
"We're really excited about this $650,000 grant that's being given to this project and the chance to be able to ensure that in terms of engineering everything is a go," Abramson said.
Gary and Pam Ahearn of Asheville, NC, who are visiting the Tri-State for a bowling tournament, thought the bridge development idea would keep them coming back to the area.
"We come here for the attractions anyhow. They have the Hoinke Bowling Tournament that brings us up and we want other things to do while we're here," Gary Ahearn said.
"It would make it interesting," said Pam who currently enjoys walking over the bridge. "The picture (of the design) that they showed on the news was interesting."
The project is estimated to cost more than $100 million and would include 150,000 square feet of multi-level entertainment and lodging uses, including a boutique hotel, and a conference and banquet center.
Wally Pagan of the Newport Southbank Bridge Co. wrote, "Preliminary engineering work indicates that the bridge can support construction of the proposed development due to its eight massive limestone pillars that support the bridge."
Abramson joked at Friday’s presentation ceremony that Kentucky State Rep. Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) "kept beating the drum about this project."
In a statement Keene said, "This project will provide jobs and investment and attract tourism and visitors to the region."
Developers hope that if the project is completed that it will provide in the neighborhood of 1,000 post-construction jobs.
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