Of all the lists the Brent Spence Bridge has made the last few years; the one Tri-State politicians, chambers of commerce, and transportation departments desperately want it to make, it can't.
Tuesday, as Congress seems poised to pass a $284 billion bill for the nation's highways and bridges, the Brent Spence Bridge had not made the cut.
"The Brent Spence Bridge is the number one infrastructure priority for the entire region," Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President, Gary Toebben says. Toebben will go to Washington next week with the Cincinnati Chamber to meet with Congress and try to get approval for $600 million of the $750 million needed to build a new bridge.
And the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says a new bridge is needed. "Safety issues are one of the main concerns regarding the bridge," Nancy Wood says.
The problem is not a structural one, the bridge is only 41 years old. The problem is it's not wide enough. It was designed to carry 80,000 cars a day. In 1986 the shoulders were turned into a fourth lane in each direction, increasing it's capacity to 100,000 cars. But right now, more than 150,000 cars cross the bridge every day and that number is growing.
"It won't be long before there will be 200,000 vehicles a day on that bridge," Toebben says.
The congestion effect is staggering. According to the Transportation Cabinet, drivers are five times more likely to get into an accident on Brent Spence, than they are on any other stretch of interstate in the area. Six years ago, the National Bridge Inventory called it "functionally obsolete." Brent Spence has also been dubbed the 7th most dangerous bridge in the nation.
The need is an economic one too, Toebben says. "There is so much commerce that flows over the Ohio River between our two states," he says. Every day more than 30,000 tractor trailers cross the bridge, Toebben says only CVG deals with that much business around here.