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Governors seek federal funding for Brent Spence Bridge project

Brent Spence Bridge

COVINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced 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 Covington, Ky., to Cincinnati, Ohio.

During a public briefing in Covington Monday, Beshear and DeWine 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 Kentucky and Ohio, 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.

As part of the announcement, Beshear and DeWine 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.

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 Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) 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.

“Covington is thrilled by what it heard today,” said Covington Mayor Joe Meyer. “Governors Beshear and DeWine again reiterated their intention to move forward on a long-term solution to the Brent Spence bottleneck that will not include tolls. And Gov. Beshear again expressed his sincere desire to right-size the project and mitigate any potential negative impact on Covington’s historic neighborhoods and business districts and the Suspension Bridge. Those are huge wins.”

Brent Spence Bridge Corridor

The planned transportation project will not replace the Brent Spence Bridge, because the bridge remains structurally sound. The new funding would cover the bulk of the cost for KYTC and ODOT to construct the new companion bridge to the west of the current bridge. The project would also make improvements to the existing bridge surrounding the eight-mile interstate corridor.

The second bridge would add much-needed capacity by separating local and through traffic to ease the ongoing traffic backups. The project would also provide an opportunity to invest in local businesses and a growing workforce by improving safety and travel along this critical national corridor for commerce and freight.

The states will apply for the federal grant funding together once application guidance is released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. If funding is granted, both states have agreed to contribute any required matching funds.

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