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Sunday, September 21, 2003

Cooperation on bridge can set an example for other projects



Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio - "The Brent Spence Bridge project is just beginning and we need to continue to work together. The bridge is a lynchpin in our regional transportation system and keeping it in working order has to be one of our highest priorities in the Tristate. There does seem to be a consensus on the importance of the bridge to our local
S P E C I A L
R E P O R T

mouth of the bridge
Collision course
The Enquirer has found the Brent Spence Bridge to be one of the most hazardous in the nation. Ride through the treacherous spots on WCPO video and rate the bridge's 'Fear Factor' in our online survey.

economy, but we still have critical decisions to make about funding and how we repair or replace it. We have to get this right because it will affect jobs and the quality of life in our area for years to come. This means staying focused on what is best for the Tristate and putting aside partisan, regional or other differences. If we continue to follow this approach, I think it can be a model for other regional projects."

Rep. Ken Lucas, D-Ky. - From my perspective, regionalism is essential to building stronger communities. States, cities, and counties aren't just competing against each other anymore they're competing against the world. I feel the delegation representing our area works quite well together and I welcome opportunities to work with my colleagues to benefit the Tristate area. Many regional projects, like expanding the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport and establishing the Freedom Center, have shown that we can come together to advance a regional agenda. The Brent Spence Bridge project provides us with yet another opportunity to demonstrate our cooperation, commitment and common vision for our region."

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. - "The cooperation has never been better. Unless we cut down on the weights and truck traffic, that bridge will be in a failing state by 2010. I think everybody is moving like heck to make the replacement bridge happen. We have to move fast to get it done. The cooperation has to continue. If Cincinnati is to grow, it will make Northern Kentucky bigger. We are the South Bank of Cincinnati. It's in Northern Kentucky's best interest to work with Cincinnati. What we have found in our Northern Kentucky counties, we didn't succeed in the General Assembly in Frankfort till we put aside our differences and worked as a region. I have never seen better cooperation between Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties. Whatever we do in Greater Cincinnati should work to the advantage of both sides of the Ohio River."

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio - "Clearly, the replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge is an important regional project. The bridge serves a critical function in our region's transportation infrastructure and provides the primary Ohio River crossing for one of the nation's busiest freight corridors. Unfortunately, the Brent Spence Bridge has become 'functionally obsolete.' Most estimates give the bridge a useful lifespan of less than 15 years, and it is likely that it will need to be replaced in the near future.

"While the region has reached a consensus on the need for replacing the Brent Spence Bridge, much work remains to accomplish this ambitious goal. The amount of money needed from local, state and federal governments - likely to exceed $500 million - remains the most significant obstacle. It also threatens to drain resources from other smaller, but critical projects, such as the replacement of the Waldvogel Viaduct which has the lowest bridge rating in Hamilton County.

"I believe regional dialogue and cooperation are essential to building a strong and vibrant community. This can be a difficult task, because many projects do not have the obvious regional scope of the Brent Spence Bridge. Nevertheless, it is vital that citizens, businesses and elected officials make every attempt to work together to provide a better future for our region."

Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio - "I've long contended that both the Ohio congressional delegation and the Tristate delegation are among the most productive in Congress. This fall, as Congress writes an energy bill, we've got a great opportunity to join state and local leaders - particularly on the Ohio side of the River - to address an issue of great importance to the Buckeye State.

"Ohio is the third largest consumer of ethanol in the nation. Increasing use of this environmentally-friendly fuel additive is a proven way to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. However, despite Ohio's forward-thinking use of ethanol, our state pays a penalty of $120 to $175 million annually in lost federal transportation dollars because of a flawed highway funding formula that treats ethanol-consuming states in an unfair way. As a state, we must work together to push for a 'fix' to this flaw as the new national energy policy is crafted - a fix that will mean millions more for Ohio's vital transportation infrastructure.

"This collaborative effort will require great cooperation between officials here in the Tristate and throughout Ohio, but if the past is any indication of our chances for success, we've got the ability to meet this challenge."

Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio - "United by the Ohio River, the Tristate has much in common and has much to offer. Whether cheering for the same sports teams, commingling on the river or travel through the regional airport or roadways, we have the same interests at heart and we should have a shared vision. The future of the region will be a collective effort, not an individual attempt by a single municipality. The Brent Spence Bridge project should serve as a model for future regional projects. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, I have worked with my colleagues who represent the Tristate to ensure the vital link between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky is repaired and I look forward to future opportunities for cooperation among the leaders in the region."

Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio - "This year the Tristate area engaged in fruitful regional collaboration resulting in a concerted effort to fund reconstruction of the Brent Spence Bridge. As a result, many members of Ohio's and Kentucky's congressional delegations have made this project a priority and requested hundreds of millions of federal dollars to renovate or replace the bridge.

"We must recognize that this type of regional approach to transportation, economic development, and many other issues is the best and most efficient way of ensuring future success for regional projects. We are living in an increasingly mobile and interdependent nation where state borders are becoming less important and regional economies are expanding and becoming more intertwined. Working with our tri-state partners on projects - both big and small - will foster a common identity that can lead to future collaborations and promote regional economic growth.

"As federal legislators, we must continue to encourage collaboration between states, local governments, business and labor in our efforts to build a strong economic foundation from which residents not only in Cincinnati, but the entire region will benefit."




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