NKY Businesses Want A Solution To The Bridge Dilemma
When President Joe Biden comes to Cincinnati Wednesday for a town hall, one likely topic is infrastructure. As Congress tries to hammer out the specifics of the proposed infrastructure bill, Northern Kentucky businesses want to know if the aging Brent Spence Bridge corridor is included, and how the government will help pay to lessen the load on the "functionally obsolete" bridge.
Northern Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Brent Cooper says the time for delay has passed. "And we are urging the president, the Senate and the House to finally come together and get a package passed."
Cooper describes the bridge as "expensive, unpredictable and flat-out dangerous." He says "it was bad before the pandemic and it's still bad now. And it will still be bad when it finally reopens to four lanes in the fall. So, we need a plan."
Any delay in fixing the bridge is affecting Northern Kentucky businesses. Cooper says one of his IT competitors told him a lack of maintenance and improvements on the Brent Spence had cost him over $1 million in lost business.
Then there's the problem for bigger companies like DHL and Amazon in getting their employees to work in the midst of aging infrastructure.
Beyond the bridge there are other projects in need of infrastructure funding:
- Roebling Bridge
- Fourth Street Bridge
- Former IRS site
- PromoWest Pavilion at Ovation
Cooper says Senator Mitch McConnell told the Chamber that any federal money would have to be matched locally. Cooper understands that. "We're for reasonable solutions. And that's our message to the president, the governors and all local and state officials. Let's find a way to get this done and leave our region better than we found it."
More than 163,000 vehicles a day travel across the Brent Spence Bridge, according to a 2019 study by the Kentucky Transportation Department. That's more than twice what it was designed for.
Experts say it will take $2.6 billion to repair the Brent Spence and build a new bridge beside it to lessen the load.
Over $1 billion dollars worth of freight goes over the bridge every day. WVXU's Tana Weingartner did a story this year for NPR on the condition of the bridge.