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Advocates: Brent Spence Bridge, ‘notorious chokepoint’ and critical connector, needs attention

Staff report

Revitalization of the Brent Spence Bridge corridor has been a topic of discussion for decades. The bridge is carrying twice the traffic it was designed for and is a notorious chokepoint for commuters. Between federal and state action there’s an opportunity to revitalize the Brent Spence Bridge corridor and invest in critical regional infrastructure projects this year.

To help bring attention to this important topic, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a local campaign that includes digital advertising, earned media, editorial, and social media aspects. The digital ad:

“The American people have had to deal with the consequences of infrastructure inaction for far too long. We have spent decades talking about fixing the Brent Spence Bridge. It is time to stop talking and start acting. We are calling on Congress to pass an infrastructure bill by the Fourth of July that can help fix this bridge and fund long overdue projects throughout the region and across the country,” said Neil Bradley, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear agrees.

“The Brent Spence Bridge is not a local bridge with local traffic. It carries two interstate highways and tens of thousands of cars and trucks every day. It’s an indispensable connector on one of the most important traffic corridors in the eastern United States, but it’s being asked to do far more than it was built for,” said Beshear. “A second bridge is urgently needed, not only to share the traffic load but also for the economic stimulus it would provide. Kentucky and Ohio are willing to do their part. Congress needs to step up as well. Congress needs to meet its obligations on our interstate system and at least provide significant help on financing a new bridge to complement the Brent Spence.”

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray says the bridge is a strategic corridor — and a traffic bottleneck.

“With its international airport and its highway connections, Northern Kentucky is strategically situated to be a leading hub in the country for air and highway freight. But for Northern Kentucky to reach its full potential, its traffic congestion issues must be solved,” said Gray. “The Brent Spence Bridge is solid and sturdy but is being asked to carry twice the number of vehicles it was designed for, and so it becomes a traffic bottleneck. The bottleneck, however, isn’t confined to the immediate area of the bridge itself. It’s a problem along the entire Brent Spence corridor. The solution is the added capacity of a companion bridge.”

“The Brent Spence Bridge corridor is a vital transportation structure serving thousands of commuters a day and allowing local businesses to access important markets,” said Brent Cooper, President and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “However, the bridge continues to experience an increase in vehicles, accidents that shut down operations, falling concrete, and is ranked in the top 10 of bottlenecks in the country. For the sake of our safety and local economy, we need action both at the state and federal level to help improve our local infrastructure.”

The time is now, says Richard Dalton, Business Manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 16.

“The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 18, and our 16,000 members covering Ohio and Northern Kentucky would like to add our support to ending the Brent Spence Bridge’s gridlock by constructing a new companion bridge,” said Dalton. “We have kicked the can down the road for far too long with this issue that negatively affects the motoring public and our local and interstate commerce. The time is now, ‘Build the Bridge.’”

Brett D. Ruffing, Executive Director, Kentucky Concrete Association, says we need an investment in our infrastructurel

“The Brent Spence Bridge is a vital link that connects six states in the Eastern United States and carries over 3% of the nation’s GDP.  This is not just an infrastructure issue for Kentucky and Ohio, but one that has national implications should we not invest in our infrastructure,” Rugging said. “This one bridge alone has seen more than doubling its designed traffic flow, which leads to safety issues as well as lost economic activity when accidents cause this vital link to be shut down or motorists wait in traffic.  Our infrastructure is crumbling.  Now is the time for both the state and federal governments to make an investment in our infrastructure- an investment in our future so that our economy can continue to grow.”

The Brent Spence Bridge (I-71 at I-75) is the second most congested area in the nation for truck bottlenecks, according to an annual list just released by the American Transportation Research Institute.

“This report comes as no shock to those who use it because the Brent Spence Bridge is chronically congested and horrendously unsafe. And, the report shows the situation isn’t getting any better,” said OKI CEO Mark Policinski.

“In a few short years, we’ve seen the bridge significantly worsen in terms of safely and efficiently transporting freight and families,” Policinski added.

The Brent Spence Bridge is one of the busiest trucking routes in the United States, carrying more than $1 billion worth of freight every day and more than $400 billion worth of freight every year.

“There is no debate that the situation calls for a new bridge. I applaud the reasoned men and women on both sides of the river who are working to find a solution to this fatal flaw in our regional infrastructure system,” Policinski said.

ATRI’s 2021 Top Truck Bottleneck List measures the level of truck-involved congestion at more than 300 locations on the national highway system.

The Brent Spence Bridge was ranked no. 5 on last year’s list.

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