OKI presents findings of regional freight plan

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Council of Governments presented its findings and recommendations of the Regional Freight Plan on Wednesday.

The findings culminate more than a year of research, data collection and project recommendation development.

More than $323 million tons of freight flows into, out of and through the region annually, a figure that is expected to increase over the next several years.

The final OKI Freight Plan identifies freight trends, prohibitive bottlenecks and 58 project recommendations for the region's highways, railroad, river and air freight systems.

Repair or replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge was also included in the study.

Originally built for 80,000 vehicles, it's now used by more than twice that many. It's going to cost more than $2.4 billion to build a new bridge. Right now, Ohio and Kentucky have $50 million of that.

Rob Bucksath has been trucking in the area for 13 years. Experience has taught him that driving through downtown, and specifically on the Brent Spence Bridge, is what he calls a "nightmare."

Truckers like Bucksath haul 80 percent of all the goods that come and go through Cincinnati. Barges, trains and airplanes move the rest.

OKI says the Tri-state's economic future lies in its ability to get all those forms of transportation, and the infrastructure that supports them, up to date and integrated.

"It's our ability as a region to confront this tsunami of freight that is coming, that's going to determine whether or not we are going to be a player in the global economy," said Mark Policinski, executive director of OKI.

Some of the study's specific recommendations are:

  • Increasing rail capacity and dealing with an abundance of at-grade crossings
  • Easing truck congestion on secondary roads
  • Encouraging more freight and cargo service at CVG.

The council says there is room for the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to make better use of the city's oldest asset, the Ohio River.

But the big ticket item remains the Brent Spence Bridge.

"Without the augmentation of the Brent Spence, everything fails," said Policinski. "Freight fails. There will not be the economic development we need. Transportation systems will shut down, so that is a given. The rest of the projects center around how we make this region competitive when the competition that we face from the global market place has never been greater."

"The council says it's going to take a mix of business and civic leaders, public and private money to make this plan a success.

Sen. Sherrod Brown introduced a bill on Tuesday that would create an infrastructure bank to help fund projects like the Brent Spence Bridge.

Copyright 2011 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.