Editor's Note: This story's headline has been updated to reflect the correct total of funding awarded for the Brent Spence Bridge, which was over $1.6 billion.
CINCINNATI — The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $1.635 billion to both the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for a companion bridge to be built to the Brent Spence Bridge.
The funding will also go to improvements on the eight-mile Brent Spence Bridge Corridor, which runs from the Western Hills Viaduct in Ohio to the Dixie Highway in Kentucky.
The funding came through two different sources. The Bridge Investment Program provided $1.385 billion, which will be distributed under a multi-year grant agreement with ODOT and KYTC, a new funding mechanism to help large bridge projects. The second source of funding came from the Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant which provided $250 million.
The states applied jointly for funding for the project.
Constructed in the 1960s, the Brent Spence Bridge was designed to carry around 80,000 vehicles a day, but the daily traffic load on Interstate Highways 75 and 71 has reached 160,000 vehicles in recent years. Because I-75 is a key freight corridor stretching from Canada to Florida, the congestion impacts commerce and commuters who travel the corridor in the eastern United States.
“This historic amount of support from President Biden and our federal partners means that we’re on pace to reshape our infrastructure and the economic growth of our region for generations to come,” Mayor Aftab Pureval said. “They got it done, when for years, others could not. And thanks to our incredible regional team of state and local partners, we are ready to push this groundbreaking project to the finish line.”
Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky said he was thrilled the time had come for the companion bridge's construction.
“Funding and constructing the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project is more than the fulfillment of my administration’s promise – it’s a dream fulfilled for the thousands of travelers who pass through the bustling region every day waiting eagerly for traffic relief to come on this nationally significant corridor. It also shows what’s possible when we prioritize people over politics," Beshear said. "Once complete, drivers will have a more enjoyable and efficient drive and we’ll have the infrastructure in place to support the booming economy in this part of the state."
Sen. Mitch McConnell helped secure the funding through his support of last year's bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Job's Act. McConnell contacted U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to advocate directly for Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project funding.
“For decades, inadequate capacity on the aging Brent Spence Bridge has created headaches for drivers traveling between Kentucky and Ohio. Today, we’re taking a major step toward fixing the problem,” said McConnell. “Using my role as Senate Republican Leader, I stood with Sen. Rob Portman to break through gridlock and pass last year’s bipartisan infrastructure deal, delivering record funding for landmark infrastructure projects including today’s grant. Building a new companion bridge on the Brent Spence Bridge corridor will be one of the bill’s crowning accomplishments, bringing long-awaited safety improvements, traffic relief and rejuvenated commerce to Northern Kentucky and Southwestern Ohio.”
Groundbreaking on the project is expected to begin late next year and completion is slated for 2029.
“Ohio and Kentucky have been discussing the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project for almost two decades, and now, we can finally move beyond the talk and get to work,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. “This project will not only ease the traffic nightmare that drivers have suffered through for years, but it will also help ensure that the movement of the supply chain doesn’t stall on this nationally significant corridor. My administration vowed to press the federal government to fund this project, and we’re glad that they have recognized its significance."
The White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation will provide additional information next week.