Brent Spence Bridge Truck Ban Study

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Introduction and Background

The Brent Spence Bridge on I-71/75 across the Ohio River is arguably the single most important piece of transportation infrastructure the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana (OKI) region. It is also one of the most congested. The bridge connecting Covington, Kentucky with Cincinnati, Ohio opened in 1963. It was designed to carry 80,000 vehicles per day; currently, the bridge carries more than 150,000 vehicles daily and is projected to carry 200,000 each day by 2030. High traffic volumes generally relate to higher numbers of crashes and the Brent Spence Bridge is no exception. While the bridge is structurally sound it is functionally obsolete. Heavy congestion and frequent accidents on the bridge routinely gridlock traffic on two major interstates. The bridge not only carries traffic through the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, it is a vital link for north-south commerce between Michigan and Florida. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) have begun the process to evaluate alternatives for replacing the bridge. The bridge replacement project is currently funded through the right of way acquisition. Future funding will go to the final design and construction phases. KYTC and ODOT anticipate selecting a preferred alternative in the fall of 2008. The Brent Spence Bridge is typical of the cantilever truss design, with a main span of 830.5 feet and approach spans each measuring 453 feet. It opened in November 1963 with its two decks striped for three lanes each. In 1986 the emergency shoulders were eliminated and the decks were restriped for four 11-foot lanes in each direction from three 12-foot lanes to accommodate more traffic.

Conclusion

A ban of through trucks on the northern Kentucky portion of I-71/75 has no substantial benefits. Reduction in severe crashes is expected to be very modest. Operating costs to the trucking industry and additional emissions negatively impact the region. The practical difficulties in the enforcement of a truck ban must also to be considered in the deployment of such a ban.