COVINGTON, Ky. – In his periodic update on the status of the Brent Spence Bridge repairs today, Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray gave positive news:
- The first of the new steel beams needed to replace those damaged in the fiery inferno that erupted in the crash of two tractor-trailers on Nov. 11 was delivered today.
- Crews from Kokosing Construction Co. would be working around the clock through the holiday and weekend to fix the bridge.
- The targeted completion date remains Dec. 23.
- And the finished product will be a “safe and sound” bridge that should inspire confidence in drivers.
“There will be no cutting corners on this project,” Gray told news reporters, City officials, and others who watched that virtual briefing and participated in a subsequent meeting.
Gray said the state would continue to route tractor-trailers not delivering locally around the closed bridge onto the Interstate 275 loop.
However, when pressed by Covington Police Chief Rob Nader, Transportation officials said that the state was not banning trucks from leaving I-71/75 to use U.S. 25/42 – a state-managed highway – to cross the Ohio River via the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge. In Covington, that means trucks can enter Covington from Park Hills on Dixie Highway and use Pike Street and Main Street to access the Clay Wade Bailey.
Residents and businesses in the MainStrasse Village area in particular have complained that large trucks using that route have contributed to backups there, especially when drivers of large trucks have deviated from that state-maintained route and gotten stuck on side streets.
Covington officials have responded by taking steps to ease the passage of those trucks:
One, the City rented at its expense (although it will seek reimbursement) two 13-foot digital sign trailers and put them on Pike Street to alert drivers to turn left on Main Street from Pike Street to avoid getting stuck on smaller streets.
Two, it installed additional “height limitation” signs warning trucks who fail to make that turn of the CSX Transportation trestle bridges at two key areas and routing those trucks back onto the larger streets.
And three, Chief Nader sought and received permission from the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety to use an existing federal highway safety grant to pay for enforcement details to enforce Sec. Gray’s restrictions on pass-thru truck traffic. The grant requires officers who pull over violators to write citations, not just issue warnings, while also directing them back onto I-275, Covington City Manager David Johnston said.
“Given that the rules for the U.S. 25/42 corridor are set by the state and thus our enforcement power is limited, we continue to search for ways to limit the disruption caused by trucks in our neighborhoods,” Johnston said.
Meanwhile, Sec. Gray continued to stress the need for patience.
Additional information about the repairs, schedules, and detours can be found on a website set up by the Transportation Cabinet, HERE. Inquiries should be sent to
[email protected] or (859) 341-2700.