COVINGTON, Ky. — Drivers in the Covington and Cincinnati area should prepare for more work on the Brent Spence Bridge. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) announced that a routine maintenance project to clean and paint the bridge will begin March 1, weather permitting.
What You Need To Know
- Brent Spence Bridge to undergo routine maintenance project
- Project to begin March 1, weather permitting
- Maintenance scheduled to be completed by Nov. 15, 2021
- Project will require some lane, ramp closures
Scheduled to be completed by Nov. 15, 2021, the project will require various lane closures on the bridge, as well as the closure of several ramps that provide access to the bridge.
“This is a routine project that is part of the normal lifecycle of a major structure like the Brent Spence Bridge,” said Bob Yeager, Chief District Engineer of KYTC’s District 6 office. “Just as you have to perform regular maintenance on your personal property like your car and your home so it stays in good working order, we have to perform regular maintenance on our public infrastructure to ensure it remains safe for long-term use.”
“The bridge was first painted when it was opened in 1963, and it was painted again in 1991,” continued Yeager. “The average life expectancy of a paint job of this nature is about 20 years. We’ve been able to extend that life cycle by performing routine upkeep, but now is the time for a more comprehensive cleaning and painting of the entire structure."
The bridge will require more than 35,000 gallons of paint to cover its more than 1.5 million square feet of surface area. The bridge will be painted gray following KYTC Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction. Crews will also complete other routine maintenance tasks on the bridge, such as drainage work, signage repairs, and replacing interstate emblems on the roadway surface.
Work on the bridge will be completed in phases. Crews will begin setting up containment and other equipment that will support the first phase of work on the bridge. As work is completed, the traffic pattern on the bridge will shift.
During Phase 1, the two easternmost lanes of the bridge will remain open, and the westernmost lanes will close. As the project progresses, the two westernmost lanes will be open and the two easternmost lanes will be closed.
The following ramps will be closed for the duration of the project:
- The ramp to I-71 southbound from Fort Washington Way
- The ramp to I-71 southbound from Third St.
There will be no access to I-71 southbound from Downtown Cincinnati.
- The ramp to I-71/75 northbound from Fourth St.
“In 2017, when we replaced the concrete deck on the bridge, we set-up similar traffic patterns – with two lanes of travel remaining open throughout the course of that project,” said Yeager. “What we observed then was that drivers adjusted their routes and traffic volumes on the bridge decreased. There was not a significant change in travel times for those who used the bridge for their daily travel.”
“Typically, a maintenance project of this size and scope would have significant impacts over at least two construction seasons,” said Yeager. “Recognizing the important connection the Brent Spence Bridge provides for many who travel to and through the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, we structured our contract with North Star Painting Company to complete this maintenance work as efficiently as possible. Working in two of the four lanes on both decks will allow us to maintain reduced traffic on the bridge as maintenance work progresses and restore the full movement of traffic as quickly as we can.”
Ohio-based North Star Painting Company was awarded the contract as the low bidder at $35.8 million. The majority of the cost is in specialized equipment and personnel required to clean and paint the main span, as well as the Kentucky and Ohio approaches to the bridge. In addition to maintaining traffic across the bridge throughout the project, crews must also work carefully to keep debris out of the water and the roadway.
“We expect our contractor to be meticulous about the task at hand,” said Yeager. “We are requiring them to keep a portion of the bridge open to traffic while being mindful of the tremendously challenging environment in which they have to work.”