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Emergency Repair of Brent Spence Bridge Wins National Honor

The swift emergency repairs to the Brent Spence Bridge late last year after a fiery truck crash shut it down for weeks has been honored with a national award.

American Public Works Association (APWA) named it the Public Works Project of the Year.

The span, which connects roughly 160,000 vehicles each day from Covington to Cincinnati via Interstates 71 and 75, was abruptly closed on November 11 after two tractor-trailers collided on the bridge's lower deck.

The ensuing fire caused damage to a portion of the bridge forcing it to close, and pushing heavy traffic into sides streets on both sides of the Ohio River.

What had at first been projected to be possibly a months-long repair ended up lasting just 41 days.

The bridge reopened on December 22 under budget and ahead of schedule.

The Brent Spence Bridge repair was among a select handful of projects the APWA singled out as exemplifying “amazing collaborative efforts to build and rebuild America’s infrastructure.” It was named Project of the Year in the category of disaster or emergency construction repair less than $5 million.

APWA will recognize the Brent Spence repair and other Project of the Year Award winners in a video posted to on August 31.

“This nationally recognized bridge has now earned Kentucky national praise for the great work performed by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and its contractors to turn a crisis into an accomplishment,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “The expert repairs not only led to the quick reopening of an economically significant corridor during a bustling holiday season, but it preserved the safe condition of a bridge that will remain in service for decades to come.”

APWA CEO Scott D. Grayson said the annual awards recognize the alliance between managing agencies, contractors and consultants.

“The beauty of the Project of the Year Awards is that they highlight the amazing collaborative efforts to build and rebuild America’s infrastructure. Every year, I’m amazed at the innovation and vision the award recipients share to improve quality of life for the public,” Grayson said.

“It would be hard to imagine a more challenging scenario,” said Jim Gray, Secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC). “Abrupt loss of a critical connection on one of the busiest commercial corridors in the eastern United States. A global COVID pandemic. And winter weather. We conquered this combination of factors by quickly assembling a great team, being innovative and then working night and day without letup.”

APWA credited success of the project to “simultaneous efforts on multiple fronts, quick thinking and innovative project development and procurement used by KYTC and the engineering team,” which included the consultant Michael Baker International Inc., and the contractor, Kokosing Construction Co.

APWA, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, is an international organization of more than 30,000 members involved in the field of public works.

Meanwhile, the bridge is currently restricted as part of a regularly scheduled maintenance project which is expected to be completed in November.

-Staff report