Brent Spence Bridge
(Covington, Ky.) - A new Brent Spence Bridge will be built and tolls will pay the $2.4 billion cost, governors of Ohio and Kentucky announced together Wednesday.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to study financing plans for replacing the Interstate 71/75 bridge over the Ohio River.
The agreement represents an important step in the plan for Ohio and Kentucky to jointly construct a new river crossing that will improve safety and traffic flow over the Ohio River by supplementing the existing Brent Spence Bridge between the two states.
“This important agreement will ensure that the Brent Spence Bridge project continues to move forward, bringing jobs, economic growth and congestion relief with it for the thousands who travel this route daily,” said LaHood.
Construction could begin as soon as 2014 and would take up to three years to complete the work.
The 49-year-old bridge currently carries traffic from two of the nation’s heaviest truck routes. About 160,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day and that number is expected to grow to 235,000 in the next 20 years.
The new river crossing will carry more than 60 percent of the Brent Spence Bridge’s current traffic, significantly reducing traffic congestion and increasing capacity at a chokepoint along one of North America’s busiest north-south freight corridors, the U.S. Department of Transportation said.
Tolls will fund the new bridge. What the toll rates will be has not been determined.
Once underway, the project will include construction of new approaches, reconfigured traffic signals and other roadway improvements on both sides of the Ohio River to accommodate the modified traffic flow.
“This project represents a critical investment for Ohio and Kentucky,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “Once underway, this project will create jobs and make driving in the area safer and easier for years to come.”
President Barack Obama visited Cincinnati last year, using the Brent Spence Bridge as a backdrop for a speech about upgrading America’s infrastructure.