After decades of promises and years of negotiations, Brent Spence Bridge corridor improvements have finally been granted funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law President Joe Biden signed in 2021.
According to Sherrod Brown’s office, the U.S. Department of Transportation has officially awarded $1.635 billion in funding to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC).
“After working for more than a decade, we are finally going to build a new Brent Spence Bridge,” said Brown in the press release. “The infrastructure law is already making Ohio bridges safer — starting right here in Cincinnati — and I’m going to make sure Ohio gets its fair share — or more — of infrastructure funding.”
In February, when Governors Andy Beshear and Mike DeWine signed a memorandum of understanding to seek federal funding from the Infrastructure Law, they announced the total Brent Spence Bridge project would have three components: A new companion bridge that will divert traffic from the Brent Spence Bridge, improvements to the existing bridge and reworking I-71/75 on both sides of the Ohio River. The companion bridge will be toll-free, both governors said.
At that point, Beshear and DeWine estimated the cost of the entire project at $2.8 billion total, with the anticipation that around $1.66 billion requested from the Infrastructure Law would go toward the new bridge’s funding.
Earlier in December, Governor Andy Beshear said he’s been waiting “on pins and needles” for the call that federal funding is approved for the project, which aims to build a brand new bridge across the Ohio River, next to the existing Brent Spence Bridge.
“Kentucky has already put up $250 million, we’ve budgeted for it, it is sitting right there ready to go,” he said in a Dec. 12 interview. “And if we get a phone call that says that we won those grant making processes, it’s on.”
The Brent Spence Bridge, built in 1963, carries roughly 3% of the nation’s GDP each year. It is considered “functionally obsolete.”
The bridge has officially needed a replacement since at least 1998, when the Federal Highway Administration determined it was no longer accommodating traffic needs.
The new project would keep local traffic on the existing bridge and the companion bridge would become an express path for highway traffic through the downtown Cincinnati and Covington corridor.