A plan to further delay the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project announced over the weekend by the leading Republican ticket in this year's governor's race is being discounted by proponents of the project.
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and his running mate, Kenton County State Senator Chris McDaniel, told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday that they would like to pursue study of a possible span from Campbell County to Newtown, Ohio, arguing that perhaps the $2.6 billion project in Covington in which a new bridge would be built next to the existing Brent Spence may not be the best path forward for the region.
"We need to see what was the starting point of the conversation regarding the current alignment," McDaniel told the Enquirer. "I'm not convinced that everything was considered fairly, and I would like to know why did we end up at the decision that the Brent Spence Bridge needed to be updated, and then having a new bridge built right along side of it. And then we could look at other alternatives as part of that conversation."
Nonsense, said the Build Our Bridge Now campaign.
Planning for a new bridge would require years of study and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, the coalition argued. Meanwhile, the cost of construction would be in the billions and require an interstate highway and feeder roads to be built in residential communities throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, the coalition said.
All the while, the Brent Spence corridor would remain unchanged.
“This plan raises more questions than it solves,” said Matt Davis, director of the Build Our New Bridge Now Coalition, a broad-based partnership of businesses, government leaders, community groups, and individuals advocating for the bridge project. “To suggest that the Brent Spence Bridge project has not been thoroughly vetted or property planned ignores the fact that transportation engineers and experts from the federal government and two states have spent years and more than $70 million exploring and developing solutions.”
Davis also asked how a new bridge to Newtown would be paid for and argued that banning trucks from the Brent Spence, as the Comer-McDaniel plan suggests, would be ineffective since trucks are only 17-percent of that bridge's traffic. 23,000 trucks would be placed on roads and bridges not designed for big rigs, the coalition said in a news release.
Also, would the proposal require the construction of two bridges? One to Newtown and a new one over the Licking River between Campbell and Kenton Counties to tie the new route to Interstate 71/75?
“The time has come for solutions and action,” Davis said. “We’ve agreed on the problem, explored alternatives to address the Brent Spence Bridge corridor’s issues for years. To suddenly start talking about an entirely new bridge that would create major disruption and upheaval in communities in Ohio and Kentucky does not address or solve the major problems with the Brent Spence Bridge. Ignoring our key regional connector that recently received a C-rating in favor of a more expensive plan that has already been rejected is not a way forward.”