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Brent Spence Bridge to be repaired with help from federal government

The Brent Spence bridge
Al Behrman
The Brent Spence bridge is getting long-sought repairs thanks to an infusion of federal cash.

Ohio and Kentucky are getting some good news to begin the New Year. The federal government has announced it will provide enough money for a new bridge over the Ohio River connecting the two states. Improvements will also take place at the Brent Spence Bridge on I-75 and 71, a symbol of the nation's growing infrastructure needs.

The Brent Spence Bridge is a double-decker, cantilevered truss bridge that carries traffic on both interstates across the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky. The top deck carries Kentucky-bound traffic while the bottom deck carries Ohio-bound traffic.

The bridge, which opened in 1963, is heavily traveled and has been a daily source of traffic jams for years.

It was originally built to carry 80,000 to 100,000 vehicles per day but in recent years, anywhere from 160,000 to 180,000 have crossed the bridge on a daily basis, and it's become a conduit for major freight carriers.

The increased load has caused concern for Republican Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Democratic Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.

DeWine said both states and their senators have lobbied hard to get federal dollars to build a companion bridge and improve access through the bridge's corridor.

"It’s going to cost about $3.6 billion dollars to build this bridge and that’s basically the problem. This is a tremendous amount of money and Kentucky and Ohio simply didn’t have the money to build it without it being tolled," DeWine said.

DeWine said neither state wanted to charge a toll and this new money means they won’t have to. The federal government will contribute $1.635 billion in grants to complete the project, according to DeWine, and Ohio and Kentucky will kick in about a billion dollars each. The work is set to begin in late 2023.

The bridge was closed for repairs in November 2020 for a month after a crash between two semis triggered a fire damaging about 100 feet of the bridge.

ODOT sends help to Buffalo for blizzard recovery

Two people sit in the cab of a large truck in the middle of a parking lot. The truck appears to be moving forward. Three more trucks are in the background.
Ohio Department of Transportation
Ohio Department of Transportation
Ohio Department of Transportation crews head out from Ashtabula to Buffalo to help with storm damage.

In other Ohio road news, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is sending more than two dozen of its employees to Buffalo, New York, to help them dig out from the blizzard that hit over the weekend after the city requested help.

“A crew of 28 ODOT employees, about a dozen dump trucks and some other vehicles headed to the East and headed to Western New York where they will be until next Tuesday. What I’m told is that they will be basically scooping snow, putting it in dump trucks and removing it from neighborhood streets and areas where it has piled up quite a bit over there," ODOT’s Matt Bruning said.

Bruning says the crews were pulled from around the state to avoid leaving ODOT short-staffed in Ohio.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.