One of the potential Brent Spence bridge concepts done by Rosales + Partners is a contemporary design featuring arches and peaks. Courtesy of Rosales + Partners, Inc.

Helena Battipagli

City of Cincinnati

Mayor Aftab Pureval, State and City Leaders announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $1.635 billion to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) to construct a new companion bridge to the Brent Spence Bridge.  Funding will also be used to make significant improvements to the eight-mile Brent Spence Bridge Corridor, which runs from the Western Hills Viaduct in Ohio to the Dixie Highway in Kentucky.  It represents a historic 98.5 percent of Ohio and Kentucky’s request for the project.

This transformational grant was awarded through two different funding sources:

  1. $250 million from a Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant (MEGA), which assists large, complex projects that are economically significant.
  2. $1.385 billion from the Bridge Investment Program.  This money will be distributed under a multi-year grant agreement with ODOT and KYTC, a new funding mechanism created to assist large bridge projects. This was the second federal funding application submitted jointly by the two states.

“This historic amount of support from President Biden and our federal partners means that we’re on pace to reshape our infrastructure and the economic growth of our region for generations to come,” Pureval said. “They got it done, when for years, others could not.  And thanks to our incredible regional team of state and local partners, we are ready to push this groundbreaking project to the finish line.”

The memorandum also directs transportation officials in both states to begin preparations for construction. A more detailed interstate agreement will be signed later this year.

“With today’s signing, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the State of Ohio are aligning our efforts to make this project a reality,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “This memorandum spells out our obligations and positions us to quickly apply for these federal dollars, which will allow us not only to build this new bridge, but to do it without tolls! And just as important: this project shows what we in government can do when we embrace cooperation and progress and simply do what is best for our people.”

The Brent Spence Bridge project has been a regional issue for the past several years. The $2-3 billion project by President Obama now moves closer to funding with a federal grant just announced for the replacement of 48-year-old Ohio River span. The first option by Parsons Brinkerhoff and Rosales + Partners is a contemporary arch design similar to the Daniel Carter Beard Bridge (Big Mac Bridge) to the east. The design is favored by many for its classic look, and the opportunity it presents to create a balanced bookend to the cluster of bridges spanning the Ohio River through the region’s urban core. Provided

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said: “For decades, the backups on the Brent Spence Bridge have frustrated drivers, hindered economic development and slowed supply chain deliveries. Today, a solution is in reach, and we are committed to aggressively working together to secure this funding to help us fix this transportation nightmare once and for all. Not only will this project improve quality of life for drivers in Ohio and Kentucky, but keeping this major transportation network open and moving will also have a significant positive impact on our national economy and national security.”

The Brent Spence Bridge was constructed in the 1960s to carry around 80,000 vehicles a day, but the daily I-75 and I-71 traffic load has reached 160,000 vehicles in recent years. I-75 is a key freight corridor stretching from Canada to Florida and so the slowdowns also impact commerce throughout the eastern United States.

The teams at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) have been planning the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project for nearly two decades, completing groundwork that has made it nearly ‘shovel ready’. Project construction could potentially begin in 2024.

The White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation will provide additional information next week.

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