With federal funding secured and a request for proposals issued on behalf of the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor (BSBC) Project, the project team wasted no time putting boots on the ground in an effort to secure diverse and inclusive participation in this historic infrastructure investment.

Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project team members held an all-day Networking Meet & Greet for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms on March 7 at the Radisson Hotel Riverfront in Covington to connect DBE contractors with potential bidders on the project to discuss opportunities.

More than 260 individuals representing prime and DBE firms from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and the rest of the nation joined representatives from ODOT and KYTC for a presentation on the project funding, goals, and timeline. Participants were provided the opportunity to schedule 15-minute one-on-one appointments with prime consultants and contractors interested in pursuing the Design Build contract, the Quality Assurance Manager/Owner’s Representative contract, or the Construction Engineering and Inspection (CEI) contract.

Response from participants on both sides was enthusiastic, with nearly all DBE and prime attendees ranking the event an 8 or higher on a scale of 1-10 via a post-event survey.

“The turnout was absolutely tremendous,” said Tom Arnold, acting capital programs administrator and BSBC deputy project manager for ODOT. “We’re elated at the interest and enthusiasm for this project. This $3.6 billion project creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for building and investing in a diverse workforce for this region, and we’re excited to make that opportunity a reality. This event is just one step in a decade-long initiative with many more to come.”

For resource links for consultants, contractors and DBE firms, and to keep up with future events, visit the Work With Us page on the BSBC website.

Since the design process began in 2005, the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor (BSBC) Project has undergone a series of changes to minimize its impact and address public comments. As a result, project design improvements have been made throughout the corridor to benefit residents and regional travelers for decades to come. A summary of those improvements is outlined below.

Reduced number of residential relocations by over 90%, and business relocations by 50%

The new companion bridge just west of the existing Brent Spence Bridge was originally planned to cover nearly 25 acres and span nearly 150 feet in width. Revised plans show the new bridge at almost half the size, covering approximately 14 acres and 84 feet in width.

As a result, the project’s footprint has been significantly reduced. The original plan called for the relocation of 40 residential units, including apartment buildings with multiple units, and 14 businesses in the project area. The current plan, however, indicates just four total residential units, five commercial lots and portions of two others will require relocation.

Reduced impacts to number of Lewisburg Historic District properties by 68%

Similarly, the original plan indicated 21 properties and portions of seven others would need to be acquired in the Lewisburg Historic District. Today, only three properties and portions of six others will be acquired.

Reconfigured ramps downtown, returning 10 acres to Cincinnati for development

Meanwhile, in its continuing collaboration with Cincinnati’s elected officials and community leaders, the project team last year announced redesigned plans for the area immediately west of the Duke Energy Convention Center, freeing up 10 acres for future development.

Reconnecting western Cincinnati neighborhoods with new and improved pedestrian and bike facilities

At the request of residents and city officials, pedestrian and bicycle facilities will be constructed across and parallel to I-71 and I-75 at most cross-street intersections and highway crossings, helping to reconnect western neighborhoods with downtown Cincinnati. You can see these here.

Adding noise walls, addressing storm water runoff, and other measures to support local parks and communities

Other changes prompted by public comment include the addition of noise walls and noise/visual screening walls that exceed Kentucky and Ohio requirements. In addition, the project team has agreed to fund measures to:

  • Replace land, reconstruct a walking trail, replace a basketball court, relocate an outdoor pool and develop a master plan for Goebel Park, Kenney Shields Park, and the SFC Jason Bishop Memorial Dog Park;
  • Protect and restore the Firefighters Memorial and Ezzard Charles Park during construction; and
  • Reduce flooding and combined sewer overflows.

Initially developed in the 1960s to support noise reduction as the federal highway system took shape, the first noise walls were designed to reduce traffic sounds along I-680 in Milpitas, CA. Officially known as highway noise barriers, the 2,748 miles of noise walls across the U.S. have continued to evolve, improving in both effectiveness and appearance.

Noise walls will be installed in various locations throughout the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor (BSBC) Project based on both technical analysis and public input. In fact, the 8-mile project will include approximately 8.75 miles of noise barriers to support sound reduction in neighborhoods throughout Ohio and Kentucky.

The project’s original Environmental Assessment (EA) was developed in 2011 and updated in 2022 to account for changes in project impacts and regulatory updates. Currently, noise walls are recommended for parts of I-71/75 along Ft. Mitchell, Ft. Wright, and Park Hills, as well as the Covington neighborhoods of Peaselburg, Botany Hills Lewisburg, and Mainstrasse. In Ohio, noise walls are recommended along the interstate near Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood and the Queensgate Playground and Ball Field. You can find more information on those studies here.

How Do Noise Walls Work? 

It’s simple sound science. While walls won’t completely block all noise, those with the best design and placement can knock down the sounds of passing cars and trucks by five to 10 decibels, reducing the sound level of a typical tractor trailer to that of an automobile. The walls work by either absorbing the sound, transmitting it, reflecting it back across the highway, or forcing it to take a longer path over and around the barrier.

Attractive Buffers to Reduce Intrusive Sounds 

It’s important to note that noise walls don’t just protect neighborhoods from noise pollution. They must also be visually pleasing enough to blend into the everyday scenery – and in some cases, even showcase a neighborhood’s personality, history, or creativity. For the BSBC project, some of these aesthetic decisions are up to the project’s Aesthetics Committee, and many are open to input from the neighborhoods themselves, gleaned during neighborhood meetings with project team members.

Case in point – Northern Kentucky residents in Goebel Park and along Crescent Avenue raised concerns that noise walls might block the view they enjoy now. As a result, KYTC is evaluating the potential for transparent noise walls in certain locations and will continue to coordinate with the City of Covington during the project’s final design and construction to address those concerns. Other neighborhoods are considering showcasing local art, turning noise walls into murals. The project team will continue to work with neighborhoods adjacent to the project area to address concerns and get feedback on noise wall plans

The Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project team welcomes comments and feedback from the public. To submit a question or comment, visit the project website and click on the “Contact Us” button in the upper right-hand corner.

Responses to all public comments can be viewed on the Public Involvement and Comments section of the website. This section features project exhibits, summaries of outreach activities, and summaries of responses to questions posed to the project team during meetings or via email. The document with the summary of responses from all sources is updated monthly.

(Information has been provided by the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project team)