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Source : Flickr
May 30, 2022
Author : Patty Allen
Commuters driving between Ohio and Kentucky across the Brent Spence Bridge have something to look forward to. Their drive time is set to get shorter and safer.
A restoration project of the nearly 60-year-old Ohio River bridge is underway. It will be done in collaboration between the Ohio and Kentucky state governments. The two governors describe the corridor as a "vital centerpiece to the interstate system of the United States", an important thoroughfare for the national economy.
Ohio’s Department of Transportation (ODOT) is currently looking for a management team to oversee the $2.8 billion project to restore the nearly 60-year-old Ohio River bridge.
In addition to this, a recent Ohio Bill awards ODOT $700 million in Federal Transportation Funding. This is funding originating from the $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The Ohio House Bill (HB338) has received approval from Ohio’s Senate and House.
ODOT would also get an additional $18.3 million from the federal government for public transportation.
Along with transportation money, the bill also allows the state's transportation director to award design/build contracts worth up to $1.5 billion to renovate Cincinnati's functionally obsolete Brent Spence Bridge.
Governors Mike DeWine of Ohio and Andy Beshear of Kentucky have also requested $1.66 billion from the US Department of Transportation's Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant program. As part of the new infrastructure package, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced $2.9 billion in potential financing through the initiative in March. The deadline for funding applications was Monday.
A "companion bridge" will be built alongside the existing Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky via I-71 and I-75. As part of the "interstate network" encompassing the bridge, improvements are also planned to the Western Hills viaduct junction in Ohio and the Dixie Highway in Kentucky.
This bridge has been accorded the title of “'number 2 bottleneck for freight truck in the entire nation”' by the American Transportation Research Institute. The bridge has undergone several bouts of repair work since 2021, causing severe traffic disruption to the public.
A recently published Press Release states, "The states will split the cost of the new bridge 50/50, and each state will be responsible for the needed work on its side of the border."
The HB338 bill, if signed into law by the governor, would enable the Ohio Turnpike Commission to form partnerships with other states to assist in the collection of tolls owed by out-of-state residents by denying applications or transfers of motor vehicle registration until the tolls are paid.
Two other provisions are being made under this bill: current and former military members would be able to obtain a commercial driver's license without having to complete a knowledge test. The bill would also allow any regional transit authority (RTA) in the state to issue revenue bonds backed by the RTA's own sales tax revenue.