The debate over how to finance, or even whether to construct the $2.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project will move from local discussion to statewide on Monday. It's the topic of that night's edition of Kentucky Tonight on KET.
Covington Mayor Sherry Carran and Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce interim president Brent Cooper will be on the program. Both have supported moving the project forward.
Covington City Commissioner Steve Frank, a vocal opponent of the project and the proposed use of tolls to finance it, will also appear along with Brian Ellerman, general counsel for Toebben Companies.
The program is broadcast live on KET (Channel 54 or Time Warner Channel 190) and viewers can send in questions or comments to [email protected] or use the form at KET.org/kytonight. Viewers can also send tweets to host Bill Goodman, @BillKET or send comments to KET's Facebook page. The phone number for viewer phone calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605. All messages should include first and last name and town or county.
Cooper, Carran testify in support of the bridge in Frankfort
Mayor Carran and Cooper were joined by Chad Day, executive secretary of the Greater Cincinnati Building & Construction, in testifying before the Kentucky General Assembly Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation on Thursday morning.
Cooper told the subcommittee of the business community’s strong support for the bridge and called on legislators to pass legislation permitting Public Private Partnerships – or P3 – in Kentucky, which would allow public and private investment in major infrastructure projects.
“This is legislation that 40 other states already have to help build projects safer, quicker and more efficiently,” Cooper said. He also asked legislators to consider an additional allocation of state dollars to the project in the future.
“The Brent Spence Bridge isn’t unique to just Northern Kentucky’s needs,” Cooper said. “It has an economic nexus to the entire state of Kentucky. For example, 90 percent of Toyota’s supply chain crosses that bridge on a yearly basis.”
Day stressed the unified front Bridge supporters are showing in Frankfort.
“I’ll be the first to admit that the Chamber and Labor aren’t always in agreement on issues,” Day told the panel. “But this is definitely one issue on which we completely agree– the need to replace the Brent Spence Bridge.”
Day cited a study conducted by the Center for Economic Analysis and Development, part of the Haile/US Bank College of Business at Northern Kentucky University, which estimated the $2.6 billion project will create thousands of construction and long-term jobs in the region while generating nearly $100 million in new local and state tax revenue.
“These will be high-paying construction jobs going to skilled and well-trained workers, who will use their wages to pay mortgages, save or pay for their children’s college tuition, buy major products like cars and appliances and make everyday purchases such as groceries, prescriptions and clothing,” Day said. “Improving the bridge will improve and enhance our economy and will literally put thousands of people to work.”
Mayor Carran emphasized the realities that Northern Kentucky faces to get the bridge built.
“Reports are showing there is not federal and state funding for all the transportation infrastructure needs in the U. S. Without tolling as an option, our transportation infrastructure needs will remain in limbo.” Carran also echoed Day on the importance of P3 to move the project forward, “P3 legislation is needed to improve investment options in our transportation infrastructure that will grow our economy, create and sustain jobs, and improve mobility and quality of life.”
Photo: Rendering of Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project