Governors of Ohio, Kentucky Apply for More Brent Spence Bridge Funding
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The governors of Kentucky and Ohio have applied for a $1.66 billion federal grant to fund improvements to the Brent Spence Bridge, a span that connects the states and serves as a vital link for freight traffic.
The application follows a separate request in the same amount that was submitted earlier this year under a different federal program.
Extending more than eight miles between Ohio’s Western Hills Viaduct and Kentucky’s Dixie Highway, the bridge supports the transportation of $700 billion in freight annually. The two states have committed to split 50/50 the $2.8 billion cost of a new bridge, and own responsibility for work on each side of the Ohio River. The new bridge will carry freight traffic along interstates 71 and 75 and be built next to the existing span, which will be used for local traffic.
Gov. Mike DeWine (R) of Ohio and Gov. Andy Beshear (D) of Kentucky in August submitted this latest funding request under the Federal Highway Administration’s Bridge Investment Program. The program has a $10 billion award ceiling for large bridge projects.
In May, the states applied for a $1.66 billion U.S. Department of Transportation multimodal project discretionary grant. This program carves out a provision for mega projects that are too large or complicated for traditional funding. No announcement has been made on the success of this application.
“There is a tremendous sense of urgency surrounding this project because we recognize how important it is for the people we serve,” Beshear said. “I want us to be able to break ground next year. Kentucky and Ohio are working with our partners to ensure we have the funding we need to complete improvements along the Brent Spence Bridge corridor.”
Ohio and Kentucky articulated in both applications that a total of $1.66 billion in federal grant funding is needed regardless of which discretionary grant program awards funds to the project. Both governors have pledged to seek every federal dollar available for the project. This latest grant application was seen as the best chance of receiving maximum funding.
“Now, more than ever, our national economy depends on the efficient movement of people, goods, and services on our federal Interstate System,” DeWine said.
Traffic moves across the Brent Spence Bridge into Ohio. (Ohio Department of Transportation)
Along with building the companion bridge, both states must improve the current bridge and roadway network at each river crossing. To prepare for construction while the grant applications are being reviewed, the bistate project team is analyzing construction options using a design/build process, and conducting environmental field work such as air and noise evaluations.
In July, updated project plans were released that show a smaller footprint than those developed in 2012. This was due to new lane configurations and fewer property impacts. The new plans show the new, 84-foot-wide bridge covering 14 acres, or nearly half the size of previous plans. The older design included two 14-foot shoulders (now 12 feet) on each deck of the new bridge, expanded shoulder widths on the existing bridge. The earlier plan for the new bridge called for a 25-acre site across a span nearly 150 feet wide. The current slimmed down version was the result of community engagement and thorough technical analysis.
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