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Ohio, Kentucky transportation departments reveal smaller Brent Spence Bridge companion plan

 Brent Spence Bridge, as viewed from a pedestrian trail in Covington.
Bill Rinehart
Brent Spence Bridge, as viewed from a pedestrian trail in Covington.

The companion for the Brent Spence Bridge won't be as big as originally planned. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet released new configurations for the project, shuttling all local traffic onto the Brent Spence and keeping all through-traffic on the new span. Engineers say that means the new I-71/75 bridge will only need to be 84-feet wide, instead of the 150 feet designed 10 years ago. The new footprint covers only 14 acres, instead of 25, as originally planned.

The existing bridge will have three northbound and three southbound lanes, plus a four-foot wide and an eight-foot wide shoulder.

The new double-decker bridge will have five lanes in each direction and two 12-foot wide shoulders on each level.

KYTC Secretary Jim Gray says in a statement, “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."

“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 says. “We feel even better about this revision because it dramatically reduces the footprint of the new bridge and completely separates interstate and local traffic.”

Nearly all of the property on the Ohio side of the river needed for the project has been acquired. On the Kentucky side, the area has been split into two sections: north and south. KTC says the northern section is still being reviewed, but the southern section has 38 properties impacted by the replacement bridge. The owners have been contacted, according to the statement.

The original plan was estimated to cost $2.8 billion. KYTC has not said if the revision will change that price tag.

Kentucky and Ohio governors Andy Beshear and Mike DeWine have asked the federal government for up to $2 billion for the entire corridor project. The money would likely come from the bipartisan federal infrastructure bill, which allocates $39 billion for bridge projects throughout the country. Both states agreed in a memorandum of understanding in February to contribute matching funding requirements.

The project team is working on a second federal grant application to be submitted by Aug. 9.

The plan calls for a groundbreaking by the fall of 2023.

More than 163,000 vehicles travel across the Brent Spence Bridge every day, according to a 2019 study by the Kentucky Transportation Department.
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Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio: and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.