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Trump Administration Lists Brent Spence Bridge as #2 National Priority

In his first week in office, President Donald Trump has already reinforced several of his campaign positions with action. On Wednesday, in fact, he is expected to push forward on his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Also this week, another campaign promise with more local ties has emerged as a priority.

The Brent Spence Bridge was listed as the #2 national transportation priority by the Trump administration, according to a report by McClatchy Newspapers (owners of the Herald-Leader in Lexington and other newspapers).

According to the report, a list of about 50 infrastructure projects totaling roughly $137.5 billion has circulated within Congress and the business community.

The funding mechanism will sound familiar to local followers of the Brent Spence saga: public-private partnerships, in which some of the funding will come from private investment. The bridge connecting Covington to Cincinnati on the Interstate 75 corridor is functionally obsolete but plans to construct a second bridge west of the existing one - an estimated $2.6 billion project, including improvements to the corridor - have not resulted in action. Each financing mechanism proposed by the governments of Kentucky and Ohio have included a tolling component.

The Kentucky General Assembly, in approving public-private partnerships last year, expressly prohibited the use of such partnerships for the purpose of tolling the bridge.

McClatchy reported about the list: "It is not clear whether that document is a draft or a final version. The National Governors Association circulated a similar list, which had been compiled by the transition team, as a spreadsheet among state officials in December, requesting further suggestions. All but two projects on both lists are the same."

Last week, just before Trump took office, the U.S. Treasury Department listed the Brent Spence Bridge project as one of the top 40 "mega-projects". Local business leaders supported the bridge project's inclusion on the list.

"The Treasury Department has confirmed what business leaders in Ohio and Kentucky have long known: the Brent Spence Bridge will unlock incredible business growth and development for our region. Completing this project must remain a top priority," said Bob Castellini, president and CEO of the Cincinnati Reds and chairman of Castellini Companies.

"This report makes clear what the incredible impact the Brent Spence Bridge project will have on Ohio and Kentucky, and underscores the importance of both state governments, working collaboratively, to develop a financing plan to move this project forward," added Paul Verst, president and CEO of Verst Group Logistics.

-Staff report

Photo via Ohio Department of Transportation