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Order Aims to Reduce Traffic Congestion in Covington While Brent Spence is Closed

Commercial vehicles are being directed to detour on I-275 while traveling northbound on I-71/75, Secretary of Transportation Jim Gray said Wednesday.

The directive aims to alleviate traffic congestion on Covington streets while the Brent Spence Bridge remains closed for repairs following a fiery crash last Wednesday morning.

Gray signed an order to encourage drivers of commercial trucks traveling north on Interstate 71/75 to stick to signed detours while the Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio River is closed for repairs.

Northbound commercial vehicles heading to Ohio are directed to detour onto I-275 toward alternative crossings. However, some through-drivers continue north on I-71/75 into downtown Covington, creating gridlock on local streets.

“The intention is not to penalize drivers but to prohibit large trucks from clogging local streets, creating traffic hazards and congestion,” Gray said. “Diverting drivers onto our established detours will keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible during this limited bridge closure.”

Gray’s order, which will remain in effect until the bridge is reopened, and which exempts trucks making local deliveries, empowers law enforcement officers to prohibit commercial vehicles from bypassing the detour.

Violators can be ticketed. "We’re not looking for penalties,” Gray said. “We’re looking for cooperation.”

Gray announced the official order in the course of giving an update on the progress of the project to repair and reopen the Brent Spence, which was damaged in a truck crash and fire last Wednesday, Nov. 11. The Brent Spence Bridge, which normally carries about 160,000 vehicles a day across the Ohio River on I-71/75, has been shut down since.

In less than one week after the crash, a team assembled by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) had inspected the damage, designed repairs and awarded a contract to Kokosing Construction Co. for the emergency project. The contract calls for the bridge to be reopened to traffic by Dec. 23.

“A week ago today, the bridge was on fire,” Gray said. “But a rigorous inspection after the fire showed the Brent Spence still to be a stout, sturdy structure. And today we are on the verge of beginning construction of the repairs that will return the bridge to public service.”

-Staff report

Photo: Traffic exiting I-71/75 at Fifth Street in Covington last week (RCN file)

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