Brent Spence Bridge Replacement Awaits Funding

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor Plans for replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge have been much discussed during recent years, but funds needed to finance the massive project have yet to be identified. The project gained national attention, however, after President Obama’s [...]

Plans for replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge have been much discussed during recent years, but funds needed to finance the massive project have yet to be identified. The project gained national attention, however, after President Obama’s visit  to Cincinnati a few weeks ago.

The Brent Spence Bridge opened in November 1963 and carries both I-75 and I-71 traffic back and forth across the Ohio River. Located on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America, it sees almost 150,000 vehicles cross it every day. Named after Kentucky’s longest-serving congressman, it is even considered by some to be essential to Ohio’s economy.

But the old bridge was listed by the National Bridge Inventory as functionally obsolete due to the capacity, sight distance and safety concerns associated with its current configuration. And on June 24, a motorist was killed because of the bridge’s limitations. 

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments and the cities of Covington, Ky., and Cincinnati consider the project a top priority.

The new bridge will be located immediately west of the current Brent Spence Bridge. Project goals are to improve traffic flow and safety, correct geometric deficiencies and maintain connections to key regional and national transportation corridors. Of the six design options presented in February 2010, three have been chosen for the replacement project. The first option is a contemporary arch design, the second a standard cable stayed design that includes two prominent towers, and the third–the boldest and most expensive of the three–a cable-stayed bridge with just one tower structure reaching hundreds of feet into the sky and rivaling some of the city’s tallest office towers.

Officials are looking for ways to finance the replacement project. Planners hope to start construction in 2015. If enough money can be secured on time, the new Brent Spence would be scheduled to open in 2023. The project will cost $2 billion to $3 billion. It will create a lot of new jobs and improve the local economy.