A Vital Transportation Link
When moving traffic safely and efficiently, bridges rarely if ever evoke public concern. They typically do what they were designed to do each day, going largely unnoticed.
But the Brent Spence Bridge, like many of the nation’s aging bridges, has seen better days.
A vital link across the Ohio River, the BSB carries both I-75 and I-71 traffic through the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region. It is also a major artery for north-south commerce between Michigan and Florida.
An Aging Major Artery
Opened in November 1963, the bridge was designed to handle 80,000 vehicles – including 3,000 to 4,000 trucks – a day. And for many years it served the region’s needs. However today, 160,000 vehicles including 30,000 trucks pass over the bridge, daily.
The situation is getting worse. Our global economic demands are causing steep increases in interstate commerce, with more cars and trucks on the road every year.
Growing Safety Concerns
Due to this increased traffic flow, motorists are three to five times more likely to have a wreck along this corridor than on any other part of the interstate systems in Ohio or Kentucky.
The corridor has officially needed a fix since 1998, when a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) study concluded the bridge was no longer meeting traffic needs.
These concerns have led a new companion bridge to be a top priority of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI).
From Funding Woes to Optimism
Kentucky and Ohio’s governors and transportation departments have worked together for years to develop a plan to build a companion bridge. But the question of funding has always prevented the plan from moving forward.
That said, there is now a growing sense that Ohio and Kentucky are closer than ever to building the companion bridge for the BSB. This confidence is buoyed by the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in November 2021. New funding is expected to support construction of a new bridge as well as updates to the current bridge and the interstate network throughout the corridor.