Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. The document voiced their cooperation to the federal government as both states prepare to apply for Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funding.
“Building a Brent Spence companion will boost safety and ease a traffic bottleneck that increasingly impacts our communities, as well as this entire country, as so many goods flow across this essential commercial corridor,” Beshear said. They expect the entire project to cost $2 billion and said drivers would not face tolls.
DeWine described the effort as a three-phase project. “We need a brand new companion bridge that would divert a significant amount of the Brent Spence’s current traffic. Two, we need to make improvements to the existing Brent Spence Bridge. Three, we need to rework the sections of the interstate on both sides of the bridge.”
Ohio’s governor stated he felt no project is as necessary or prepared when the federal government opens applications for IIJA funding. Beshear said both states would work together but apply for separate aspects of funding to access the most help possible.
Both governors said that their state’s congressional delegation is helping to secure funding. Beshear read a statement from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who could not attend the Covington news conference due to work in Washington D.C. “I’m glad Kentucky and Ohio’s governors are taking this important step today to make sure this project gets done,” McConnell wrote. “I was proud to support last year’s landmark bipartisan infrastructure deal because I know the vast positive impact it will have on our state and our economy. Already, Kentucky is slated to receive more than $5 billion to improve our roads, bridges, riverports, railways, broadband, and more. The bill also created several competitive grant programs for which states like Kentucky and Ohio can apply to help address major projects like the Brent Spence Bridge.”
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Secretary Jim Gray spoke of the optimism the agreement brings. He also described a lesson learned as both states responded to a fiery crash on the bridge that forced its closure for 41 days in November 2020. “That incident served to prove an important point,” Gray said. “The Brent Spence Bridge is a stout and sturdy structure that is going to be carrying traffic over the Ohio River for many years to come, but it is crying out for help.”
Governor Beshear insisted that both states should break ground next year. Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks suggested that the project could receive funds by the fall of 2023 and said that five years is a conservative timeline for completion.