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KYTC receives another award for Nov. emergency repairs to Brent Spence Bridge following truck fire

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) emergency project to quickly repair and reopen the Brent Spence Bridge following a disastrous truck crash and fire has earned a prestigious award.

The project was singled out for regional recognition in the America’s Transportation Awards “operations excellence” category, sponsored annually by AAA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

Kentucky Department of Transportation crews work to repair the Brent Spence Bridge following a truck fire in November. (Photo from KYTC)

“Quickly restoring safe access to this critically important bridge was an all-out effort by our Kentucky Transportation Cabinet team members and their partners,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in announcing the recognition. “It was never about awards, but it was an extraordinary project, and it’s gratifying to see their hard work recognized.”

The America’s Transportation Awards competition serves as a way to recognize state transportation agencies and highlight the projects they deliver to make their communities better places to live, work and play. All nominated projects first compete on a regional level against other projects of like size. The Brent Spence Bridge emergency repair project was nominated for “Operations Excellence, Small Category” – less than $25 million – in a nine-state Mid-America region.

From regional competitions, 12 projects will be selected to compete for a national Grand Prize selected by an independent panel of industry judges and a People’s Choice Award chosen by the general public through online voting.

The two-deck Brent Spence Bridge carries 160,000 vehicles a day across the Ohio River between Covington and Cincinnati on Interstate Highways 71 and 75. It was abruptly closed Nov. 11, 2020, after two tractor-trailers collided about midway on the bridge’s lower deck, causing fire damage to a portion of the bridge. Forty-one days later, on Dec. 22, 2020, the bridge was reopened to traffic, fully restored, under budget and ahead of schedule.

“We appreciate the recognition symbolized by this award,” Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said. “At the time, no one was thinking about awards. Our team was laser focused on restoring a vital interstate connection under challenging circumstances: a global pandemic, cold weather, the holiday season and a major interruption to one of the most commercially important river crossings in the Eastern United States.”

“As the COVID-19 pandemic forced many Americans to drastically change work patterns, state DOT employees continued the harrowing work of keeping our transportation systems operating safely and efficiently for those who had to travel, whether by vehicle or other means,” AASHTO Executive Director Jim Tymon said. “The America’s Transportation Awards program highlights just a few of the projects and programs across the country that had a positive impact on our communities’ quality of life during an otherwise uncertain time.”

The Brent Spence Bridge emergency repair project has won other honors, including Public Works Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association and the 2021 Project Award ($5 million or less) by the American Society of Highway Engineers, Bluegrass Chapter.

Governor’s Office

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