Friday, January 30, 2004

Brent Spence Bridge replacement



Here are six potential concepts for replacing and/or augmenting the Brent Spence Bridge presented by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet earlier this week. Officials stress that these are preliminary, not final, designs. None of the plans reduces any access to the interstate in either Cincinnati or Covington.

VOTE
Plan 1: New I-75 bridge and rehab Brent Spence Bridge

This would build a new bridge to the west of the existing Brent Spence Bridge that would carry I-75 traffic only between Kentucky and Ohio, meeting back up with the former I-75 alignment well into Cincinnati with no other connections. The Brent Spence would then be rehabilitated and redesigned to carry three lanes of traffic and include full breakdown lanes, and carry I-71 and local traffic.

Pros: It would bypass Longworth Hall and the Cinergy power station, two major environmental concerns. It would also separate much of the truck traffic on the bridge, and would allow traffic to flow across the river during construction.

Cons: Construction would require demolition of several businesses on both sides of the river and create a lot of disruption in western downtown and southern Queensgate.

Plan 2: New I-75 bridge and new I-71 bridge

This would entail building two new bridges, one to the west of the existing Brent Spence and another in place of the Brent Spence. This would only be done if it were determined that the Brent Spence cannot be rehabilitated. The new I-75 bridge would connect only with I-75 in Kentucky and Ohio, while the new bridge would carry all I-71 and local traffic. The size of each bridge has yet to be determined in this scenario.

Pros: It would bypass Longworth Hall and the Cinergy power station, two major environmental concerns. It would also separate much of the truck traffic on the bridge, and would allow traffic to flow across the river during construction.

Cons: Construction would require demolition of several businesses on both sides of the river and create a lot of disruption in western downtown and southern Queensgate. It also could be more expensive to build two bridges, even though they would be smaller than one large bridge.

Plan 3: New I-75 bridge with new interchange

This would build a new bridge to the west of the Brent Spence, which would be rehabilitated, while the new bridge would reconnect to both I-71 and I-75 in Ohio. All the interstate connections to I-75 in Ohio would be moved from the western end of Fort Washington Way to a new interchange west of downtown in southern Queensgate. The Brent Spence would carry I-71 and local traffic only.

Pros: It would bypass Longworth Hall and the Cinergy power station, two major environmental concerns. It would also separate much of the truck traffic on the bridge, and would allow traffic to flow across the river during construction. It also could open up more developable land in western downtown now covered by expressways.

Cons: It would be extremely costly to build a new interchange in a major urban area. It also would require a lot of land, requiring the demolitions of many buildings and moving many businesses.

Plan 4: Replace Brent Spence only with 10-lane bridge

Only one bridge would be built with at least five lanes in each direction where the existing Brent Spence stands.

Pros: The cost could be much less than two bridges, and there would be much less disruption in Cincinnati and Covington.

Cons: The wider bridge could affect either Longworth Hall and/or Cinergy. Maintaining traffic also could be a problem if the new bridge were to go exactly where the old one is. And even five lanes in each direction on a new bridge might not be enough to handle growing traffic demands.

Plan 5: Replace Brent Spence with two bridges side-by-side

Two bridges would replace the Brent Spence in its current alignment, much like the I-471 Daniel Carter Beard Bridge, with one carrying through traffic to I-75 and the other carrying I-71 and local traffic.

Pros: It could separate out local from through traffic. The cost could be much less than two bridges in two locations, and much less land would need to be acquired (with the resulting disruption) in either Cincinnati or Covington. One new bridge could be built and handle traffic while the old one is taken down and another new one was built.

Cons: The wider area needed for two bridges could affect either Longworth Hall and/or Cinergy. One smaller bridge may make for traffic nightmares during construction of the second bridge.

Plan 6: New I-71/75 bridge and rehab Brent Spence

A new bridge would be built to the west of the Brent Spence Bridge. That structure would carry both I-71 and I-75 traffic, while the Brent Spence would be rehabilitated and would only carry local traffic.

Pros: It could separate out local from through traffic. It would not affect Longworth Hall or Cinergy. It would also take much of the truck traffic off Brent Spence and would allow traffic to flow across the river during construction.

Cons: The corridor could require demolition of several businesses on both sides of the river and create a lot of disruption in western downtown and southern Queensgate. The new interstate bridge would still need to be quite large to handle growing traffic demands.

Sources: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; Burgess & Niple; Enquirer research by James Pilcher




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