The Brent Spence Bridge reopened Tuesday ahead of schedule. The I-71/75 span has been closed since November 11. A crash between two semis triggered a fire damaging about 100 feet of the bridge. Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray says the repairs were done without cutting corners, and the bridge is safe.
"We thought it would be tomorrow. That was the schedule all along," Gray says. "But through a combination of determined effort, a sense of urgency, and of course favorable weather, we were able to beat our target by a day. That's a big win for everyone."
KYTC engineers say the reopening process is complicated because they have miles of barricades and barrels to remove. Chief District Engineer Bob Yeager says closing roads leading to the bridge took time, and reopening will take time as well.
"It's important to note that the reopening has to be done in phases. Just like when we closed it, it will have to be reopened in phases," Yeager says. "This is not going to be a NASCAR mad dash."
Gray says the final cost hasn't come in yet, but it appears to be less than the $12 million emergency grant provided by the federal government. "Of course, there will need to be accounting, but we think the actual cost may be as little as half that amount."
The leftover funding could go toward repairing local roads damaged by traffic diverted from the closed Interstate highways. "If there tangential or associated impacts the emergency funding is likely to be appropriate for those repairs," Gray says.