FRANKFORT, Ky. — New revised plans for the Brent Spence Bridge have only local traffic on the existing bridge, while a companion bridge will only host highway traffic.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine revealed Friday updated bridge maps detailing new lane configurations and revamped plans to deliver what they called the “regionally-transformative” Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project.
In November 2020, a fiery crash heavily damaged and closed the bridge, making travel very difficult, especially for big rigs, through detours. The bridge reopened in late December 2020.
The Brent Spence Bridge carries Interstates 71 and 75 across the Ohio River between Covington, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio.
“While this is a nationally significant project, it is still very much a community-minded project,” Beshear said. “Our teams have gone to great lengths to shrink property impacts while still delivering a solid solution to the traffic congestion issues in the region.”
The passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law earlier this year provided a funding opportunity to forge ahead on the bridge project.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) held a thorough review of former plans for a second bridge, as well as improvements to the entire eight-mile corridor between the Western Hills Viaduct in Ohio and Dixie Highway in Kentucky.
“It has been important from the beginning to make sure we’re meeting the needs of today and tomorrow while also being mindful about the impacts this project has on surrounding properties,” DeWine said. “I will continue to challenge our teams to look for additional ways to further these goals.”
Revised plans for new companion bridge
In 2012, the Federal Highway Administration approved a plan for a new companion bridge to the west of the existing Brent Spence Bridge that will address capacity and mobility issues that have plagued interstate traffic using I-71/75 to cross the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky.
“Based on significant community engagement, as well as a thorough technical analysis, the footprint of the new bridge has been significantly reduced from the alternative approved in 2012,” a news release stated.
Initial plans included two 14-foot shoulders on each deck of the new bridge and expanded shoulder widths on the existing bridge. The new bridge was planned to cover nearly 25 acres and span nearly 150 feet in width.
Revised plans show the new bridge at almost half the size of the 2012 footprint, covering approximately 14 acres and 84 feet in width.
Updated maps show widened emergency shoulders on the existing Brent Spence Bridge to safely stow stalled vehicles, and 12-foot shoulders are provided on the new companion bridge. Additionally, interstate and local traffic are separated — the new companion structure will carry I-71/75 traffic; local traffic will use the existing Brent Spence Bridge.
“We felt good about where we were a decade ago because that solution provided additional capacity that reduces congestion and improves travel throughout the corridor,” ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks said. “We feel even better about this revision because it dramatically reduces the footprint of the new bridge and completely separates interstate and local traffic.”
With the exception of one commercial property, some railroad-owned land, and the negotiation of two utility owned properties, all parcels needed for the project have been acquired on the Ohio side of the project.
“For decades, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has completed ongoing maintenance work to ensure the safety and long-term viability of the Brent Spence Bridge,” KYTC Secretary Jim Gray said. “The Brent Spence plays a critical role in the solution being put forward and we are excited that our partners in Covington and other local municipalities in Kentucky have voiced their support for our current plan.”
In Kentucky, right of way activities have been divided into two categories — impacts north of 12th Street and impacts south of 12th Street.
In both sections, the number of impacted parcels was reduced significantly following the 2022 plan revisions. In the southern portion, there are 38 impacted properties- one of which is a residential relocation; all property owners in the area have been contacted. Plans in the northern section are still being reviewed.
“While bridge construction tends to be the public focus of the project, the bridge project only accounts for approximately one-third of the corridor project,” according to the news release.
The bi-state project team has launched a new website to provide information about the full corridor and to keep the public up to date on current planning and progress. BrentSpenceBridgeCorridor.com provides detailed information on interstate plans in Ohio, Kentucky and both river crossings.
Those interested in receiving regular project updates are encouraged to sign up for regular email updates to receive information on project status.
The project team is currently working on a second federal grant application that will be submitted by Aug. 9 and will continue to work with project partners on refining current plans, which call for breaking ground by the fall of 2023.
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.