FRANKFORT, Ky. — Final funding to rebuild the Brent Spence Bridge corridor has been secured.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell came together on Thursday, Dec. 29, to announce that federal funding grants worth more than $1.6 billion will give workers the green light to move forward with construction on the landmark bridge.
“I’m thrilled the time has finally come for us to get the companion bridge built,” Beshear said. “Funding and constructing the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project is more than the fulfillment of my administration’s promise — it’s a dream fulfilled for the thousands of travelers who pass through the bustling region every day waiting eagerly for traffic relief to come on this nationally significant corridor.”
Funding was secured through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
Over five years, the IIJA will deliver billions of dollars to Kentucky to improve the commonwealth’s roads, bridges, airports, railroads, waterways, broadband and more, according to a news release.
McConnell contacted U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to advocate directly for Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project funding, the news release noted.
“For decades, inadequate capacity on the aging Brent Spence Bridge has created headaches for drivers traveling between Kentucky and Ohio. Today, we’re taking a major step toward fixing the problem,” McConnell said. “Using my role as Senate Republican Leader, I stood with Sen. Rob Portman to break through gridlock and pass last year’s bipartisan infrastructure deal, delivering record funding for landmark infrastructure projects including today’s grant. Building a new companion bridge on the Brent Spence Bridge corridor will be one of the bill’s crowning accomplishments, bringing long-awaited safety improvements, traffic relief and rejuvenated commerce to Northern Kentucky and Southwestern Ohio.”
With funding secured, groundbreaking on the project is anticipated for late 2023, with substantial completion slated for 2029.
“Ohio and Kentucky have been discussing the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project for almost two decades, and now, we can finally move beyond the talk and get to work,” DeWine said. “This project will not only ease the traffic nightmare that drivers have suffered through for years, but it will also help ensure that the movement of the supply chain doesn’t stall on this nationally significant corridor. My administration vowed to press the federal government to fund this project, and we’re glad that they have recognized its significance. I’m grateful to the teams in both states who have worked so hard to make this project a reality.”
The Brent Spence Bridge was constructed in the 1960s to carry around 80,000 vehicles a day, but the daily traffic load on Interstates 75 and 71 has reached 160,000 vehicles in recent years.
“Because I-75 is a key freight corridor stretching from Canada to Florida, the congestion impacts commerce and commuters who travel the corridor in the eastern United States,” according to the news release.
Project plans call for the construction of a companion bridge to the west of the existing Brent Spence Bridge, as well as improvements to the current bridge and the roadway network that ties into each river crossing.
There will be enhanced pedestrian access across I-75 in Cincinnati to reconnect downtown with western neighborhoods, and the City of Cincinnati will regain nearly 10 acres to develop in the downtown area.
In Kentucky, the project will include a new storm sewer system to reduce flooding and improve local roads, including enhanced pedestrian and bicycle facilities, in the area of the existing and new bridge.
The project team — consisting of representatives from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) — applied jointly for funding and have outlined terms to move the project to construction.
In July, DeWine and Beshear announced revised plans based on community engagement and technical analysis to shrink the project footprint while still delivering a transformative project that meets the needs of the region.
“Nothing great is achieved alone, and I’m proud of all the people who’ve come to the table over the years to ensure that we’ll deliver a project with huge benefits and minimal impacts to the communities that live in and around the project area,” KYTC Secretary Jim Gray said.
Substantial completion on the project is slated for 2029. The immediate next step will be the selection process to determine the Progressive Design Build contractor team to complete the project. That effort will begin in January when the Request for Proposals is released to the contractor community.
The Federal Highway Administration recently required the project team to complete an analysis to better identify project cost estimates. Through this process, the project team determined the project is likely to cost about $3.6 billion. The increase from previous estimates was not unexpected, due to the recent impact of inflation in construction prices. As a result, the project team is updating the project’s financial plan to account for the change.
“Once complete, drivers will have a more enjoyable and efficient drive, and we’ll have the infrastructure in place to support the booming economy in this part of the state,” Beshear said. “Hats off to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Ohio Department of Transportation, and the countless partners and advocates who played a role in today’s monumental achievement. … We appreciate President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg for this historic investment.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.