There is an enormous floodwall on the Covington, KY, side of the Roebling bridge, which spans the Ohio River. It shocked me to see such a huge wall when I was there last year. I wondered if there couldn’t have been some other means of flood control that would not have produced such a large barrier. It reminded me of the significant physical barriers to the waterfront that I observed in Erie, Pittsburgh, Homestead, PA, and Cleveland. Unlike Erie, Homestead, and Cleveland, Covington did not have any significant economic drivers separated from the town by the barrier wall. The river side only had a small park and parking lot.
In addition to acting as a barrier, the sheer massiveness of the flat concrete wall bothered me. I wanted to see it broken up into staggered segments, even though I knew that would not be useful in a structure intended to block the path of water. However, Covington handled the flat wall with style by turning it into a canvas for a giant mural. Almost as long as the wall itself, this mural depicts the history of the crossing at this location from 8000 BCE to the present day. While the mural did not help with the scale of the wall, it broke the monotony while turning it into a destination for its own sake.
In the back of my mind, this wall continued to bother me until observing the effects of the significant flooding experienced in Pittsburgh this year at the forks of the Ohio River (see Checking on the Rivers and The Aftermath). A google search showed me that the flooding Pittsburgh experienced in February this year also affected the Covington-Cincinnati region in the worst flood in that area since 1997. The concept of a wall still bothers me, but this one probably prevents a lot of property damage and Covington has taken steps to soften its negative effects.