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What the new federal bridge allocations mean for the Brent Spence companion project

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Courtesy of KYTC
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The Department of Transportation Friday released the five-year bridge funding allocations under the bipartisan infrastructure law. The release offers some insights into a path forward on a companion structure for the Brent Spence Bridge.

Ohio is set to receive $483,345,095 and $438,289,100 is slated for Kentucky over five years.

"What these numbers mean is that the states have in their pocket now money that they can put forward toward the Brent Spence Bridge," says Mark Policinski, CEO of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI).

Now that they know how much they're getting, Ohio and Kentucky can use those dollars to leverage more grant money, Policinski explains.

"The bottom line is this: There is a path forward where we could build the Brent Spence Bridge - if we get significant buy-in from the federal government, and certainly the money seems to be there - to build the bridge without tolls," he says. "That's not a certainty but it is a possibility, and it's the first time it's been a possibility since the inception of this project."

The next step is to start applying for additional federal grants. Policinski says part of that depends on what rules and regulations will be applied to the federal allocations. He expects those should be available by summer, though they could be available sooner.

To be clear, the federal Department of Transportation allocations are not solely for the Brent Spence Bridge project.

"The funding will help improve the condition of about 1,330 bridges in poor condition and to preserve and improve about 9,320 bridges in fair condition in the state," according to the DOT.

The Ohio Department of Transportation will receive $96.7 million immediately under the bridge formula program. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will receive $87.7 million in the first year. Indiana's total allotment is $400,638,820 over five years with $80.1 million in the first year.

On Friday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear also released the 2022 Recommended Highway Plan. It calls for using $250 million in state funds as matching dollars for federal grants for three priorities, one of which is "toll-free funding of the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project in Northern Kentucky," according to a statement.

According to the plan, the current cost of a companion bridge is $2.8 billion. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet puts the commonwealth's share of the bill at about $1.3 billion (in current year dollars).

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.