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The Commonwealth

Kentucky, Ohio governors ask feds for $2 billion Brent Spence Bridge fix

brent spence bridge.PNG
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine submitted an application requesting around $2 billion in federal funding for the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project on Tuesday.

The bridge carries Interstates 71 and 75 from northern Kentucky to Cincinnati, a major artery responsible for between $450 billion and $600 billion in commerce – 3% of the nation’s GDP.

The no-toll $2.8 billion bridge corridor project will be partially funded through the Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant, part of the federal infrastructure bill that pays for large projects that cannot be accomplished through traditional funding.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray said the project represents an unprecedented opportunity for both states, and called it the “poster child for the bipartisan infrastructure law.”

“We think this is not a question of whether or if we’re going to get the grant. It’s really how much and when. And because this is such a bridge of national significance, we’re very optimistic. We are being funded at a level that is really an unprecedented level for major infrastructure, repair projects, and new projects,” Gray said.

Earlier this year, Beshear and DeWine signed a memorandum of understanding, signaling the states’ cooperation on the project. The Kentucky General Assembly passed a budget bill to fulfill state match requirements, and Ohio’s financial strategy recently headed to the governor’s desk.

The $2.8 billion project includes the construction of a companion bridge alongside the existing structure, with costs split between Ohio and Kentucky. But the cost of approach work at the end of the bridge will be borne individually by each state– $1.48 billion for Ohio and $1.31 billion for Kentucky.

The double decker Brent Spence Bridge dates back to 1963 and was last reconfigured in the 1980s to account for more traffic, but it was always designed to carry only half the number of vehicles that currently cross it each day. A companion bridge has been on the cards for years, and the plans to build it were approved 10 years ago.

In November 2020, the bridge was shut down for six weeks after a crash involving two trucks caused a fire, subsequently re-energizing talks of a companion bridge.

In the meantime, Kentucky and Ohio transportation officials say they will continue planning and designing the project while the application is pending.

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