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Brent Spence Bridge Repairs Underway '24/7, Including Thanksgiving'

Courtesy of KYTC
The first steel bridge replacement beams prepare to leave Frankfort, KY.

The first replacement steel stringer beams for the Brent Spence (I-75/71) Bridge were expected to arrive Wednesday. Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray says they were ordered right away in case they'd be needed."They're being delivered from a fabricator in Frankfort (Ky.)," he says. "The beams actually were sourced from four different states and this is the first batch."

Kokosing Construction is the lead company on the repairs. Gray says crews are working "24/7" including on Thanksgiving and through the weekend.

Damaged portions of the upper deck - about 6,900 to 7,000 square feet - are being removed in panel sections, according to Gray. The new steel beams will go in after that followed by a new section of concrete decking.

The investigation into what caused the two-semi crash leading to the inferno that shut the bridge continues, and there's no final cost estimate, however, Kokosing submitted a bid of $3,127,528 for its work. The Federal Highway Administration made $12 million in "quick release" Emergency Relief funds available to begin the repair process. Gray says the state will "identify and vigorously pursue any insurable claims" with the involved trucking companies.

He reiterates the bridge will be safe when it reopens. The estimated reopening date is Dec. 23.

Meanwhile, drivers are still encouraged to take alternate routes - I-275 and I-471 - around the city, and to plan travel for non-peak hours, especially if traveling over the holiday.

Gray and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6 Chief Engineer Bob Yeager insist there are enforcement protocols for state and local authorities to deal with oversized vehicles on local roads. Complaints about semis taking alternate routes through Covington's narrow streets and causing problems continue.

"Local authorities have that enforcement authority," Gray says.

"We realize there are problems with the traffic," adds Yeager. "The trucks that go through Covington are on roads that basically won't suffice for their loads. ... I think that has gone down dramatically from the first days and I think we are getting the message out."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.