Thursday, January 16, 2003

Federal proposal for bridge crafted


Brent Spence likely to need $500M

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] The Brent Spence Bridge has only 15 years left if nothing is done, engineers estimate.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
To have any hope of securing $500 million in federal money to replace or renovate the Brent Spence Bridge this year, the Tristate must stand united across geographic and partisan lines to make the issue a top priority in Congress, area leaders said after a strategy session Wednesday.

"We've had this opportunity in the past but squandered it because we all couldn't agree," Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd said, referring to the bridge that opened a year ago in Maysville, Ky., a structure originally slated to be built here. "This meeting was a good first step in creating a consensus that will create one voice to Congress so that doesn't happen here."

Several business and legislative leaders have made the 39-year-old Brent Spence a priority, especially since the federal transportation funding bill that is renewed every five years or so is up for renewal this fall. The bridge is seen as crucial to the entire region's infrastructure: It connects Interstates 71 and 75, and is the main connection between downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

According to recent studies, the bridge has about 12-15 years of life left is nothing is done, especially since it handles more than 140,000 vehicles a day, with more on the way.

Preliminary cost estimates for replacing or repairing the structure are about $500 million. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is about to begin a $2 million study on the options.

Also discussed was whether to ask Congress for the full amount; Ohio and Kentucky face severe budget problems.

E-mail jpilcher@enquirer.com




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