Fire-damaged Brent Spence Bridge to be repaired, open to traffic Dec. 23

Brent Spence Bridge Damage 1
Intense heat from a fiery crash on the bridge linking northern Kentucky and Cincinnati that took place Nov. 11 prompted the closing of the bridge. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has awarded a contract for repairs to the structure, which is scheduled to reopen Dec. 23. (Albert Cesare/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has awarded a contract to Kokosing Construction Co. to repair and reopen the fire-damaged Brent Spence Bridge that connects northern Kentucky to Cincinnati, Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray announced Nov. 16.


The multilevel structure, which conveys Interstates 71 and 75 across the Ohio River and sees about 160,000 vehicles per day, has been closed since a fiery truck crash damaged the bridge Nov. 11. The bridge is a critical link in one of the nation’s busiest traffic corridors.

Kokosing Construction, headquartered in Westerville, Ohio, submitted a low bid of $3,127,528 and committed to having the bridge reopened to traffic by Dec. 23. There will be additional costs — the exact amount is yet to be determined — for ancillary expenses such as traffic control, construction inspection and additional steel.

An in-depth inspection of the bridge, supported by laboratory testing, showed that damage was localized, and the structural integrity of the bridge was not compromised.

“The bridge is safe and sound and sturdy. The damage could have been far worse,” Gray said. “This has been confirmed through an exhaustive inspection of the bridge, supported by laboratory analysis.”

The repair project would have been much more complicated if any of the critical steel support components had been compromised.

“Once the lab testing told us the critical supports were still strong and not compromised, the repair job became clear from an engineering and construction standpoint,” Gray said.

Engineers from potential repair contractors examined the structure over the weekend. KYTC, which employed an emergency bidding process, accepted Kokosing’s bid Monday, Nov. 16.

“We are determined to get the repair project underway as soon as safely possible because of the importance of the Brent Spence to the communities it connects and to the nation’s commerce,” Gray said. “At the same time, we are going to return to the public a safe, sound bridge. There will be no cutting corners.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation has authorized up to $12 million in emergency relief reimbursement funding for expenses related to the project.

Needed repairs to the bridge include replacement of a section of the upper concrete deck in addition to steel beams, known as stringers, that support the deck weight. A section of the lower deck will be milled out and filled with new concrete but does not require complete replacement. A lengthy stretch of concrete bridge railing will also be replaced. Beyond those items will be electrical and drainage work and some cosmetic fixes, such as restriping the pavement markings.

The crash and fire occurred about midway on the lower northbound traffic deck of the two-deck bridge, which connects Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky. Current construction plans do not require closing of the river. River traffic can continue.

For a visual of anticipated bridge repairs, click here, and for updates on the repairs, click here.

While repairs are being made to the Brent Spence Bridge, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is conducting routine maintenance near the structure, the agency reported Nov. 13.

“Our managers have been reviewing that area to look for any maintenance improvements, some of which have already started, that can be completed while the bridge is closed,” said Doug Gruver, ODOT’s District 8 highway management administrator. “This allows us to get some needed work done without adding additional impacts to drivers and keeps our workers safe.”

Crews are currently working to clean drains, make pavement repairs, sweep the area, inspect overhead structures, clear nearby vegetation and remove litter. This is an example of ODOT continuing to work for the public and make the most of the current situation.

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