Brent Spence Bridge: OH, KY submit joint application for nearly $2B in funding

FILE – In this Oct. 7, 2014, file photo, traffic on the Brent Spence Bridge passes in front of the Cincinnati skyline while crossing the Ohio River to and from Covington, Ky. Governors from Ohio and Kentucky asked the federal government on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022 for $2 billion to fix and replace a bridge that became a symbol during the debate over the infrastructure bill passed last year. Overhauling the Brent Spence Bridge that connects Cincinnati with Northern Kentucky was a big selling point for President Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

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FILE – In this Oct. 7, 2014, file photo, traffic on the Brent Spence Bridge passes in front of the Cincinnati skyline while crossing the Ohio River to and from Covington, Ky. Governors from Ohio and Kentucky asked the federal government on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022 for $2 billion to fix and replace a bridge that became a symbol during the debate over the infrastructure bill passed last year. Overhauling the Brent Spence Bridge that connects Cincinnati with Northern Kentucky was a big selling point for President Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

CINCINNATI — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear jointly submitted an application requesting nearly $2 billion in federal funding to improve the Brent Spence Bridge corridor.

“The Brent Spence Bridge Corridor is a vital centerpiece to the interstate system of the United States,” DeWine said in a press release.

“With the current supply chain crisis in our country, the issue of ensuring that this major transportation corridor stays open and moving has never been more urgent.”

Both governors signed a memorandum of understanding seeking to secure federal funding from the infrastructure bill back in February.

Ohio and Kentucky are seeking $1.66 billion in federal grant funding through the Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant. According to a press release, the grant request represents approximately 60% of the remaining $2.77 billion project cost. Each state will also allocate significant state and other federal dollars toward the project. The states will split the cost of the new bridge 50/50, and each state will be responsible for the needed work on its side of the border.

“Ohio and Kentucky are working together to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the quality of life for the millions of Americans,” Beshear said.

“The time is now to invest in transformative infrastructure that supports our growing workforce and safe travel along one of the nation’s most important commerce corridors.”

In the release, the governors state that the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project will construct a critical companion bridge next to the existing Brent Spence Bridge to improve traffic flow and safety. Improvements will also be made to the interstate network on either side of the bridges throughout an eight-mile corridor from the Western Hills Viaduct interchange in Ohio to Dixie Highway in Kentucky.

According to Governor DeWine’s office, the additional capacity will alleviate congestion, improve safety and open up this nationally significant freight corridor, which carries an estimated 3% of the nation’s gross domestic product annually.

The Ohio Department of Transportation and The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) are working together on this project. Here are what both departments agree should be the next steps:

Sign “Interstate Cooperative Agreement”

Apply for federal grants, when made available

Complete an environmental reevaluation, develop financing and project management plans

Acquire property needed for construction

Prepare documents and plans to contract with companies who will manage the design and construction

Additional background on the Brent Spence:

The bridge has been a point of contention and frustration for lawmakers and local commuters alike for years.

DeWine himself declared that solving the Brent Spence problem would be a high priority after he was inaugurated as governor in 2019 while standing with then-Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

The possible reality of funding to solve the Brent Spence Bridge’s traffic debacles has been just out of reach for drivers in the Tri-State for years and time has become a crucial component. Opened more than five decades ago, the bridge has long been considered functionally obsolete, carrying about 180,000 vehicles a day, which is more traffic than it was built to handle.

The bridge has officially needed a replacement since at least 1998, when the Federal Highway Administration determined it was no longer accommodating traffic needs.

In 2021, the bridge was ranked as the nation’s second-worst traffic bottleneck.

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