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Governor vows ‘no tolls’ on Brent Spence after infrastructure bill wins Senate approval

The issue of tolls has been a sticking point for the $2.7 billion project for many years.
Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WXIX) - Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday said the Brent Spence Bridge project will not require tolls if it receives money from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

That bill passed the Senate on Monday.

Asked whether the $2.7 billion Brent Spence Bridge project will be included in the bill, Beshear replied:

“The Brent Spence Bridge will absolutely qualify. And provided that is the case, we can pay for our portion in cash. No tolls.”

The Business Courier previously reported Beshear said the federal government should pay for that portion of the bridge project proportionate to the amount of out-of-town traffic that passes over it, or about 47 percent.

The Brent Spence is a vital component of the national highway system and one of its busiest by freight volume, carrying three percent of the nation’s annual gross national product.

Deemed in good condition by inspectors currently evaluating the bridge during a rehabilitation project, it nonetheless carries more cars per day than originally intended, earning it the Ohio Department of Transportation designation “functionally obsolete.”

The Brent Spence Bridge corridor project focuses on adding a second bridge beside the current one to relieve traffic.

Progress is happening slowly on the initial phases in Ohio. ODOT has committed $130 million in state TRAC grants for approach work. Property acquisition and utility relocation are underway, with detailed design work scheduled to begin later this year.

But the lack of significant local and federal funding sources has long hamstrung the project, and Northern Kentucky leaders have opposed tolls despite previous estimates that they’re necessary to fund the project.

That could change with the infrastructure bill.

The bill proposes nearly $550 billion in new spending over five years in addition to current federal authorizations for public works that will reach virtually every corner of the country, AP reports.

Specific projects have not yet been revealed, but the bill includes money for bridges as well as roads, airports, freight rail and many other infrastructure needs.

President Joe Biden voiced support for the project in Cincinnati last month.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is also in favor of the project and has been the lead Republican negotiator on the bill, AP reports.

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