Reality Check: Someone needs to tell the President the Brent Spence Bridge is not shovel ready

Published: Sep. 21, 2011 at 1:24 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2011 at 10:22 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - President Obama says Congress needs to pass his jobs plan and pass it now.

The first reason, he wants to put money into jobs for firefighters, police and teachers.

The second thing the President wants is a National Infrastructure Bank.

Thursday, the President will use the Brent Spence Bridge as his backdrop to push for Congress to put money into that national infrastructure bank. That money, the President says, would go to building 35,000 schools, repairing roads, airports, highways and bridges.

"Building a world class infrastructure system is part of what made us an economic superpower and now we are going to sit back and watch china build faster railroads. While we have construction workers who could build them right here in America," said President Obama before a joint session of Congress.

That is true.

The President is correct when he says there are plenty of men and women ready to get to work. Among the projects the President is highlighting, the Brent Spence bridge.

So what will it take to replace the nearly 50-year-old  bridge that is clearly in need of replacement?  For starters, about $2.4 billion dollars. Typically these projects require 80 percent funding from the Feds and another 20 percent from state and local governments.

That means the Feds could kick in $1.9 billion for the project, but that would still require $500 million from state and local governments. So far, only about $90 million has been allocated.

So even with federal help the funds are still way off. Even so, President Obama insists these are the kinds of infrastructure programs needed.

"There are private construction companies all across America that are ready to get to work.  There is a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky and it is in one of the busiest trucking routes in North America,"  President Obama continued.

But the inference there is not entirely true. Listening to the President it sounds as if, if the funding was just there, construction workers could start on the Brent Spence right away.

But, they couldn't.

Even if 100 percent of the funding was in place, meaning the Feds picked up the tab for the entire project, the Brent Spence project is still, at minimum, 4 years away from breaking ground. That is because federal environmental studies are still not complete.

Here's what you need to know.

Saying everybody is ready to work is one thing. Saying the projects are ready for the workers, is another.

Remember when the President referred to the last stimulus projects saying they "weren't as shovel ready as he had hoped?" Well, this may be another example of the same problem. A bridge that needs replacement but has more than just a funding problem.

Lets hope that infrastructure bank draws interest.

And that is Reality Check.

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