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Brent Spence Bridge 2nd Most Congested Area In US, Says Report That Surprises No One

brent spence bridge
Al Behrman

Yes, we know, this information will leave many people saying "no kidding" followed by an eye roll. Here are the details anyway. An annual list from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) finds the Brent Spence Bridge corridor is the second most congested area in the U.S. for truck bottlenecks."This report comes as no shock to those who use it because the Brent Spence Bridge is chronically congested and horrendously unsafe," OKI CEO Mark Policinski says in a release. "And, the report shows the situation isn't getting any better," 

The I-71/75 bridge carries 160,000-plus vehicles and more than $1 billion worth of freight each day, or more than $400 billion in freight annually, according to OKI. It's a main north/south artery, holding two major interstates.

The Brent Spence moved up three slots from No. 5 in 2020. Ohio has four areas on the 2021 ATRI list, three of which are in Cincinnati: Brent Spence, at No. 2; the I-71/75 interchange with I-275 (in Kentucky but considered the Cincinnati region) at No. 24; I-71 at I-70 in Columbus at No. 67; and I-75 at I-74 at No. 81.

Taking the top slot on the ATRI list is I-95 at SR 4 in Fort Lee, N.J.

The Brent Spence was closed for six weeks in late 2020 for repairs following a fiery crash Nov. 11. Additionally, routine maintenance is slated to begin March 1. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says crews will begin cleaning and painting the bridge, weather permitting. The work is expected to last through mid-November. Some lane closures will be necessary.

While the bridge is considered functionally obsolete, Kentucky officials insist it is structurally safe. Lawmakers from Ohio and Kentucky have for years been unable to find consensus on how to fund a much-needed second bridge - commonly referred to as a Brent Spence Bridge replacement - to relieve congestion and handle capacity.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Thursday joined with local partners on a new advertising campaign calling for federal and state action on a replacement.

"The American people have had to deal with the consequences of infrastructure inaction for far too long," writes Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "We have spent decades talking about fixing the Brent Spence Bridge. It is time to stop talking and start acting. We are calling on Congress to pass an infrastructure bill by the Fourth of July that can help fix this bridge and fund long overdue projects throughout the region and across the country."

ATRI is a research organization for the trucking industry. It uses truck GPS data from more than one million freight trucks in its analysis.

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.