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Editorial: Businesses Believe New Bridge is Critical

I spoke last weekend at the Kenton County Mayors group meeting about the need for the new Brent Spence Bridge project.  I shared that there isn’t much debate within the business community that it is needed. 

More than 95 percent of our members told us in a survey that we need a new bridge.  There has always been a split on how to pay for the bridge, but never a doubt that a new bridge is necessary.

We believe our survey results, in part because they mirror closely an AAA survey from last year that found 90 percent of Northern Kentucky residents believe a new bridge is needed.

This past week I met with businesses throughout Northern Kentucky, large and small. The message they delivered was loud and clear, “Tell Frankfort to keep this project alive.”  

It’s about jobs and the economy.  It is about the safety of our employees and their families.  It is about the short term, and long term, competitiveness of our region. 

We are begging our elected officials, at all levels, to deliver that message to constituents and to Frankfort. 

Right now, Northern Kentucky stands to lose a significant amount of funding for the project.  We are imploring our Senators to reinsert those dollars.  Our concern is that losing that money will delay the bridge project for many years.  

Opponents of the bridge argue that, for now, we should do nothing.  We should wait until things change.   

Everyone needs to understand that ‘Doing nothing’ will be very expensive, and new roads and bridges don't just appear overnight.

30 minutes in traffic is not only wasted time, it also uses 1 gallon of gas ($3-$4).  The bridge was originally designed for 80,000 vehicles per day.  We now see days where 180,000 vehicles go across that bridge.  The projection is that in the next 10-15 years we will hit 250,000 in a day. 

The business community has spoken loud and clear that we believe this project is critical.  We have data that shows the economic impact and traffic projections.  We are up to our necks in traffic today, and the flood is coming.  

Most truly concerned and conscientious business owners don’t want their employees and customers driving a bridge that is one of the most dangerous in the country. They don’t want them sitting in traffic, wasting gas and time and reducing productivity.

What businesses do want is a reasonable and achievable solution that will improve safety and allow us to remain competitive with other communities.

Nobody wants to pay tolls; but so very many do want a bridge that is safe, efficient, and a boon, instead of a hindrance, to economic development.

As of right now, we are moving in the wrong direction. We are asking our elected leaders to come together, turn this thing around, and find a way to build a bridge.  This endless discussion and debate is, well, taking its toll.  

Brent Cooper is the interim president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the President/Owner of C-Forward Inc. Covington.

Photo: Brent Cooper