NO. 9: Brent Spence Bridge Fire & Rehabilitation

Jan. 2, 2021

The Brent Spence Bridge is a double-decker, cantilevered truss that carries Interstates 71 and 75 across the Ohio River.

In the early morning of Nov. 11, 2020, a truck accident occurred on the northbound lower deck, and fire erupted and caused damage to the bridge’s upper deck floor system steel, drainage, deck, barriers, and electrical components and the lower deck’s overlay, barriers, and electrical components.

After an emergency inspection was performed, the team helped return the bridge to service by providing engineering services, inspection, and fast-paced design to deliver the contract package for repairs within five days.

Facing an emergency interruption to traffic for hundreds of thousands of travelers each day posed a monumental challenge. Immediately following the incident, a “war room” was set up to coordinate pre-construction work encompassing five major work areas: MOT, inspection, design, public awareness, and construction procurement.

Michael Baker quickly decided that the most efficient way to repair the bridge would be to replace damaged components in-kind whenever possible. This allowed the team to use existing design plan sheets/shop drawings for much of the design. Repairs included replacing upper concrete deck, wearing surface, and concrete barriers; replacing upper steel stringers and lateral bracing; replacing miscellaneous steel at upper finger joint; removing, cleaning, and resetting upper finger joint and drainage scuppers; replacing upper deck electrical wiring, junction boxes, and conduit; replacing lower deck wearing surface; replacing lower deck concrete barriers; and replacing fixtures, electrical wiring, junction boxes, and conduit between lower and upper decks.

The bridge reopened just 41 days after the initial incident—under budget and ahead of schedule. After the bridge opened, a documentary was assembled about the entire process.

Project: Brent Spence Bridge Fire & Rehabilitation

Location: Covington, Kentucky

Owners: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Designer: Michael Baker International

Contractor: Kokosing Construction Company

Cost: $3.2 million

Length: 1,736 ft

Completion Date: Dec. 22, 2020