Ohio, Ky. officials pledge to seek federal funds for Cincinnati bridge project

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2022

COVINGTON, Ky. — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that they will jointly pursue up to $2 billion in federal funding to drastically reduce traffic congestion on and around the Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Cincinnati, Ohio, to Covington, Kentucky.

During a public briefing in Covington Monday, the governors announced plans to request up to $2 billion in funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the long-discussed Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project.

The funding is part of the bipartisan federal infrastructure bill, which includes at least $39 billion for bridge projects. If awarded to Ohio and Kentucky, the requested funds would primarily be used to build a new companion bridge over the Ohio River to give drivers an alternative to the Brent Spence Bridge.

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“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,” DeWine said. “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.”

As part of today’s announcement, DeWine and Beshear signed a memorandum of understanding confirming the states’ intention to work together on the bridge project. 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,” Beshear said. “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 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. Because I-75 is a key freight corridor stretching from Canada to Florida, the slowdowns also impact commerce throughout the eastern United States.

The teams at the Ohio Department of Transportation and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have been planning the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project for nearly two decades, completing the critical groundwork that has made this project nearly shovel ready. Because of this previous planning, project construction could potentially begin in 2024 if funding is received.

“I am proud that after decades of neglect and empty promises, we are finally on the verge of building a new companion bridge to the Brent Spence, because of the bipartisan infrastructure law,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who wrote the Bridge Investment Act with Brent Spence in mind, said. “Today’s announcement is an important step toward creating new jobs and making Ohio and our country more competitive. I congratulate Governors DeWine and Beshear and transportation leaders in both states for moving this critical project forward under the infrastructure law. My focus over the coming months will be working with President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg to help Ohio and Kentucky receive the largest possible grant for the new bridge.”