New Brent Spence Bridge Secures $1.6 Billion for Construction

Dec. 30, 2022

Thanks to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) the Brent Spence Bridge is finally getting the funding it needs to improve the corridor.

According to a press release from Governors Andy Beshear and Mike DeWine, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has officially awarded $1.635 billion in funding to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC).

"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 DeWine in a press release. “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."

Beshear and DeWine announced in February the total Brent Spence Bridge project would have three components: A new companion bridge that will divert traffic from the Brent Spence Bridge, improvements to the existing bridge and reworking I-71/75 on both sides of the Ohio River. The companion bridge will be toll-free, said the governors.

Beshear and DeWine estimated the cost of the entire Cincinnati, Ohio project at $2.8 billion total, with the anticipation that around $1.66 billion requested from the IIIJA would go toward the new bridge's funding.

In early December, Governor Andy Beshear said he's been waiting "on pins and needles" for the call that federal funding is approved for the project, which aims to build a brand new bridge across the Ohio River, next to the existing Brent Spence Bridge.

"Kentucky has already put up $250 million, we've budgeted for it, it is sitting right there ready to go," he said in an interview. "And if we get a phone call that says that we won those grant making processes, it's on."

The Brent Spence Bridge is considered "functionally obsolete". The structure was built in 1963 and carries roughly 3% of the nation's GDP each year.

In 1998, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) determined the bridge was no longer accommodating traffic needs, hence the need for the upgrade.

The new project would keep local traffic on the existing bridge and the companion bridge would become an express path for highway traffic through the downtown Cincinnati and Covington corridor.