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Brent Spence to Reopen Day Early, Under Budget, Gray Says

The Brent Spence Bridge is expected to reopen Tuesday afternoon, a day ahead of schedule, following a closure of a month and a half prompted by a fiery crash involving two tractor trailers.

Kentucky Secretary of Transportation Jim Gray said that repair work is in the final stages.

"Work is proceeding according to schedule and let me tell you, that's a good thing to be able to say today," Gray said during a virtual media briefing held at the Kenton County Government Building.

Gray added that the bridge would open "later this afternoon", a day earlier than the previously announced December 23. 

"It's been accomplished quickly, but it's been accomplished safely," Gray said of the repair work.

He also noted that while the federal government allocated $12 million to aid the repair but that now it looks like the total cost would be around half that.

"We are delivering today on a promise to return to the public a fully-repaired, still strong and sturdy Brent Spence Bridge," Gray said. 

Governor Andy Beshear participated in the briefing through a pre-produced video statement. 

"The Brent Spence Bridge is a crucial link in our interstate system for our state and for the country," Beshear said. "The reopening of the Brent Spence Bridge is a welcomed Christmas gift to everyone this season."

Leading up to the reopening, construction crews are repainting the traffic lanes and then transportation crews will gradually reopen entrance ramps.

The contractor will also break down and remove the work site.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet - District Six Chief Engineer Bob Yeager said that his team spent the previous morning removing some of the barrels from northbound Interstates 71 and 75, which were closed today for that work. Previously, a single lane had been open or local traffic to make its way to Covington.

The barrel removal work would continue throughout the day when Yeager's office receives word that the bridge has reopened, he said.

"We will move the traffic patterns back to their normal (configuration) a little bit at a time. We'll reopen the five interchanges we have and the ramps going northbound and gradually put traffic back there," Yeager said. "We would ask for your patience."

Gray also reinforced that one of the trucks involved, hauling potassium hydroxide, was not in violation of federal law against hazardous materials (hazmat) being transported through this corridor. The City of Covington recently adopted a resolution calling for tighter enforcement of that ban in light of November's fiery crash.

Gray said that he has spoken with local, state, and federal officials and that there would be new signage installed along the corridor and parts of I-275 warning of the ban.

Gray also said that the material in the truck likely did not play a role in the fire on the bridge since it is not combustible or flammable.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher