COVINGTON, Ky. — One of the most important bridges in the country, that connects Northern Kentucky to Ohio, needs fixing.
What You Need To Know
- The Brent Spence Bridge is in dire need of upgrades
- People in Northern Kentucky don’t want to pay tolls to fund the project
- Many think the bridge could benefit from President Biden’s infrastructure package proposal
- Mitch McConnell says he and other republicans won’t support the package, leaving uncertainty with the bridge
Many have suggested the Brent Spence Bridge would likely be included on the list of projects that would benefit from President Joe Biden's massive $4 trillion infrastructure proposal.
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has poured cold water on that proposal, leaving people in Northern Kentucky to continue to wonder where the money’s going to come from.
“Styled an infrastructure bill, it is in fact mostly about a whole lot of other things. For example, there’s more money for electric cars in there than there are for roads and bridges,” the senator said.
Justin Miller, who works for a limousine company, knows a thing or two about getting people where they need to go safely. He explained while filling up his gas tank at the Speedway in Covington before making his regular trip over the Brent Spence Bridge.
“I drive it daily,” he said.
Miller also knows as well as anyone how dire the need is for some serious upgrades to the bridge. The bridge has outlived its projected life span, and takes on way more traffic than it’s supposed to.
But when it comes to how to pay for upgrades, there’s a lot of disagreement, including an almost unanimous stance in Northern Kentucky against paying tolls.
“It’s just going to cause more chaos than what it is now actually. This is probably the worst area for trying to get across anyway,” Miller said. “It’s gonna be crazier down here in Covington. People are gonna jump off before they get to it, try to go across to one of the other bridges, and it’s just gonna cause more chaos for this city, as well as, you know, the state actually.”
McConnell, who’s represented Kentucky in the senate for decades, said people looking for a solution to the decades-long dilemma of how to pay for the bridge should look elsewhere than Biden’s infrastructure package.
“I personally cannot support this package that the president’s recommended, because, in the name of infrastructure, he is also recommending we completely redo the 2017 Tax Bill, that we go back to having the highest corporate tax rate in America. That we wack small businesses,” McConnell said.
McConnell said there is “no question” in his mind the 2017 Tax Bill was the principal reason that in February 2020, “we had the best economy in 50 years.”
“If that’s the condition for doing a massive infrastructure bill, I won’t be voting for it. And I suspect no Republicans will,” he said.
McConnell said Republicans have laid out a $600 billion alternative that he said is more targeted on actual infrastructure.
“What we’re willing to do, I say we the Republicans are willing to do, is to talk to the administration about an infrastructure package that’s really about infrastructure,” he said.
If an agreement can’t be reached on infrastructure, uncertainty remains on what happens with the Brent Spence Bridge.
Elsewhere in the state, mega bridge projects like the Brent Spence Bridge have used dollars from the federal gas tax.
“To the extent that there’s a shortfall, the way it was made up in Louisville, and down in Western Kentucky, they created authorities who levied tolls. Now we all know in Northern Kentucky, that is a very challenging thing. People don’t like tolls. And the inability to resolve that issue is not going to happen in Washington. It is a decision made in every state capitol, to how to allocate the gas tax,” McConnell said.
However, convincing drivers like Miller to buy into the idea of tolls is going to be an uphill battle.
“I think it’s insane, actually,” Miller said.