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Article in Congressional Newspaper Lists Brent Spence Nation's Top Infrastructure Emergency

The Brent Spence Bridge is the number one infrastructure emergency in the United States and is threatening "both the economy and public safety", according to a report in the Washington-based The Hill newspaper that covers Congress and the federal government.

In a story posted Monday on the paper's website, the story "Five big infrastructure emergencies" featured the Brent Spence Bridge at the top tops the list. From the article:

In addition to overcrowding and congestion, there are mounting concerns about the safety of the bridge after chunks of concrete fell from the upper deck onto the lower deck. Statistics also show that drivers are three to five times more likely to have a wreck along the corridor. Some transportation planners are calling on officials not only to rehabilitate the bridge, but also to construct a new one alongside it. Every year of delay in the start of construction costs the taxpayers nearly $75 million per year in inflation, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

"The story is important because The Hill is read by members of Congress and their staffs, and they know about the dire condition of the Brent Spence Bridge," said Jill Meyer, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional, which is a leading member of The Build Our New Bridge Now Coalition, an organization that promotes the Brent Spence Bridge replacement prohect. The estimated $2.6 billion project would add a second span to the west of the functionally obsolete Brent Spence, but because current proposal would require tolls to be part of the financing mechanism, Kentucky legislators have not given the green light. "It also provides a reminder to local legislators and elected officials what is obvious to those in Washington," Meyer said.

"The condition of the Brent Spence Bridge is not going to improve, it's only going to get worse," Meyer continued. "The bridge is overcrowded, unsafe and a constant impediment to commerce and the important manufacturing corridor it creates."

The 52-year-old Brent Spence Bridge carries more than 160,000 vehicles a day, double what it was built to accommodate. Each day, it is estimated that 40,000 trucks carry more than $1 billion in freight across the bridge. 

Proponents of the project, citing inflation, estimate that the cost increases of the project grows $8 million for each month that construction of the bridge is delayed.

-Staff report

Photo: Brent Spence Bridge as seen from the Radisson Hotel in Covington (RCN file)