CINCINNATI — The governors of Kentucky and Ohio are teaming up to build a new bridge connecting the two states.
Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky and Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio announced Monday that they are asking for up to $2 billion in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project.
Through the project, a new companion bridge would be built west of the Brent Spence Bridge. The governors said it wouldn't replace the existing bridge but would ease some of the traffic and congestion issues on it.
According to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Brent Spence Bridge was intended to carry around 80,000 vehicles per day when it was built in the 1960s. Today, the bridge carries twice that load.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray assured the public that the Brent Spence Bridge is still "safe and structurally sound" but the new bridge will simply provide an alternative for those traveling between Covington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. It will also allow for the separation of local and through traffic.
Gov. Beshear added that the new bridge would not be tolled.
“For decades, the backups on the Brent Spence Bridge have frustrated drivers, hindered economic development and slowed supply chain deliveries. Today, a solution is in reach, and we are committed to aggressively working together to secure this funding to help us fix this transportation nightmare once and for all,” said Gov. DeWine.
On Monday, Beshear and DeWine signed a document that spells out the obligations of each state as they apply for the funding. If they receive the money they've requested, Ohio and Kentucky will split the cost of the project 50/50, contributing additional funds as needed with state and local dollars.
Transportation departments in both states have been working on this project for nearly two decades, according to ODOT. Because of this previous planning, construction could begin in 2024 if funding is received. During Monday's announcement, Beshear said he would ideally like to break ground by next year.
“This project shows what we in government can do when we embrace cooperation and progress and simply do what is best for our people,” Beshear said.
In addition to the new bridge, the project would include improvements to the Brent Spence Bridge.
The bridge was constructed in the 1960s, according to ODOT. It is maintained by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and several routine maintenance projects have taken place throughout its history.
The Brent Spence Bridge was shut down for more than a month in 2020 after a crash and fire led to "significant damage."