Hamilton County officials learned Friday the county won’t be designated a cooperating agency by the federal government for the Brent Spence Bridge project.
That designation comes with more influence over decisions that have environmental impact — something Hamilton County Administrator Jeff Alutto says the county needs on the $3.6 billion effort to build a companion span for the Brent Spence Bridge and revamp eight miles of highway north and south of the Ohio River.
“The county has several functional areas we provide to the community where there’s direct involvement to the degree that we believe cooperating agency status is justified,” he told county commissioners Tuesday during an update on the Brent Spence Bridge project given by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Alutto says the county’s role overseeing the Metropolitan Sewer District, its stake in the Western Hills Viaduct replacement, and its role overseeing the region’s air quality all mean it should get cooperating agency status.
County commissioners say they want to see if that decision can be reconsidered.
“It’s very disappointing that we are not going to be a cooperating agency,” Commissioner Denise Driehaus said. “Not only because we have this really big part to play when it comes to the bridge as the county to the north, but also because of some of the really impactful things to our systems.”
The county will still play an advisory role on many decisions involving the bridge corridor via its work with the Ohio Department of Transportation and other agencies. Those include a say in how a design-build team is selected for the project.
(This article written by Nick Swartsell at WVXU.org)