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Ohio, Kentucky to share bridge replacement costs

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
Governors Beshear and Kasich announce their plan to pay for a Brent Spence Bridge replacement

Ohio and Kentucky will share the costs of building a new bridge between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  The Brent Spence Bridge has been deemed functionally obsolete, carrying more traffic than intended. 

The estimated price tag for a new bridge is $2.6 billion. Governors Steve Beshear and John Kasich are not counting on federal help.  “There’s a lot of talk right now that our federal partners might be able to come up with the money to build these bridges," said Beshear. " And both Governor Kasich and I are here to tell you that if that happens, if they come with some significant dollars, we will be thrilled.”

“And I will start putting a nickel under my pillow waiting for the tooth fairy,” Kasich joked.

The two states will share the costs of building the replacement.  While the bridge is technically Kentucky's responsibility, Governor John Kasich says Ohio is ready and willing to assist.

“We’re not going to have any trouble figuring out how to share things.  Nobody’s interested in getting a leg up on anybody else.  I’ll write them a check, if we have to, out of our state treasury to make sure we have a balanced situation,” Kasich said at a news conference in Covington, KY, Wednesday afternoon.

The two governors say it will take gas tax money and tolls to replace the Brent Spence Bridge.  While tolls have met with opposition, Beshear says this plan includes a frequent user discount.

“It is too early in this process to determine exactly what the tolls will be in the financing plan,” said Beshear.  “And we won’t really know the exact amount of tolls until a lot of variables are settled.  But what we are committed to is a significant discount rate of 50 percent for those who commute regularly.” 

The governors say they have also instructed transportation officials to look at ways of reducing the cost of building a replacement.  That would include revamping plans for the approaches to the bridge.  Beshear says Kentucky was able to cut the cost of a bridge between Louisville and Indiana from $4.1 billion to $2.3 billion.

A report is due by the end of March.

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.