Two companies make pitches to build, finance Brent Spence replacement

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune says building a toll bridge to replace the Brent Spence bridge is achievable.

Portune is a member of the County's Transportation Improvement District which received presentations from two companies which want to build and finance the $2.4 million project.

Portune says he would like construction to begin in late 2014. He says every month of delay adds $8 million to the price tag.

The 48-year-old bridge now carries twice the volume of traffic it was designed for and transportation experts describe the bridge as functionally obsolete.

Supporters of a toll say that with federal funding in doubt tolls would be the quickest way to get the bridge built.

Opponents say toll booths would make traffic congestion even worse and many motorists would look for other routes across the river.

County commissioners say charging a toll is the best way to get the project off the ground with minimal delay.

"Yeah it has to be replaced," said Jim Morton, who commutes between Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. "I'm sure the taxpayers are going to pick it up in Northern Kentucky or in Ohio, but again I'm not a big fan of tolls. I am not endorsing it primarily because I'm stuck. I work in downtown Cincinnati, I live in Northern Kentucky and I would probably have to work from home a little more often so people like me don't have a choice."

"Considering I come over about four or five times a month because I live in Clifton in Ohio I don't think it would bother me to pay a toll," says Melody Bravard.

Jefferson Williams, who works near the Great American Ball Park says he's against the toll.

"No....I would go two, three miles out of my way before I pay it," he said. "With the stadiums being right next door like that...they have a game and the regular traffic and the game traffic all mixed together...they're going to be backed up to Dayton."

Terri Rollins of Kenwood says she's used to tolls.

"My thing is I've lived in Dallas and there are plenty of tolls that you have to pay for different road constructions and things like that and I think it could be a necessary evil you know to take care of the's going to cost," said Rollins.

Randolph McGee says he doesn't like tolls.

"It's absurd really when you consider all the stuff we do pay know we shouldn't have to pay just to cross the river," said McGee.

"I don't think they should. There's no need for it. I know there's going to be a private company doing it, but I mean there's so many bridges why are they going to charge for one...I really don't see a need for it," said Jeremy Kuhn of Delhi.

"If that was the best way they could finance it here...all things considered I would go ahead and pay for it yeah," said Mike Andres of Westwood.

If Hamilton County officials have their way, the Brent Spence will join more than 5,200 miles of roads and bridges across the nation that charge a toll.

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