Brent Spence funding in jeopardy?

Traffic backs up on the Brent Spence Bridge. File photo
Traffic backs up on the Brent Spence Bridge. File photo

(FOX19) - Funding for the Brent Spence Bridge project may have hit a snag in Kentucky.

On Tuesday, a House committee moved forward with plans to pull nearly $37 million in funding from the project.  That leaves just more than $22 million in federal funding in a $60 million pot outlined by Gov. Steve Beshear in his recommended highway plan. 

The cost of the project is expected to be around $2.5 billion.  With added finances and interest, up front funding is estimated around $3.5 billion.

"The choice that we have before us: Do we want to build this bridge or not," said Brent Cooper, interim president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

The idea of the project has been a topic of discussion and plenty of debate, over the years.  But, with some uncertainty in funding after those moves by the Kentucky House of Representatives, the plan has some worried.

"It's critical to NKY.  It's critical to the greater Cincinnati region.  It's critical to our airport.  It's critical to our residents.  There is no bigger project than the Brent Spence Bridge project.  It's critical to commerce," Cooper said.

The bridge is structurally sound, but said to be "functionally obsolete" with narrow lanes and no shoulder room.  But, some Northern Kentucky leaders are applauding the decision of the House to pull funds and bar tolls.

"That's fine. I don't think we need the bridge now at least not right now," said Steve Frank, Covington city commissioner.

Down the road, a new Brent Spence Bridge is fine for him.  He's not against the bridge, just the plans for funding.

"There was never an opposition to the bridge itself.  It was just how they were choosing to fund it, and at our expense.  The deal was a bad deal for everybody in Northern Kentucky," said Frank.

Studies show 172,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily.  Furthermore, studies have shown that more than 3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product crosses the bridge each year tallying $417 billion. It's predicted that by 2030, $830 billion in gross domestic product will cross the bridge.

"We've been working on this for 13 years.  We have all these studies.  We've done all this work to get to this point, and for this to get delayed again is unimaginable," Cooper told FOX19.

The next step is for the state Senate to vote on the measure.

Related content:

Study shows 2 funding options for new Brent Spence Bridge

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