Brent Spence Bridge Gains Federal Environmental Approval

The $3.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project recently gained environmental approval from the Federal Highway Administration; allowing Kentucky and Ohio to move forward with this critical joint transportation infrastructure venture.

[Above image via the KYTC]

Stretching from the Western Hills Viaduct in Ohio to Dixie Highway in Kentucky, the $3.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project will be built without tolls and transform an eight-mile portion of the I-75/I-71 interstate corridor, including a new companion bridge immediately to the west of the existing bridge.

Photo by the Ohio DOT

FHWA’s determination with the “Finding of No Significant Impact,” or FONSI, is based on a supplemental environmental assessment conducted by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The assessment evaluated the social, economic and environmental effects of the project as well as measures to mitigate unavoidable impacts; incorporating FHWA’s consideration of feedback received during the public comment period.

That feedback is based on 16 neighborhood meetings and two open house events conducted by KYTC and Ohio DOT since late 2022 to solicit comments on the project plan.

An additional five public hearings were conducted in February, providing the public an opportunity to specifically comment on the project’s supplemental environmental assessment.

KYTC and Ohio DOT noted that the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project team maintains a project website, social media presence, monthly e-newsletters and regular news releases – enabling the project team to keep the public informed while providing opportunities for residents and interested parties to share feedback.

Photo by the KYTC

[Editor’s note: The KYTC closed the Brent Spence Bridge following a truck crash and fire on November 11, 2020, that damaged its decking and steel beam supports. The bridge re-opened on December 22, 2020, one day ahead of the emergency project’s scheduled completion date.]

“The Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project is a testament to what can happen when we work together to get things done,” said Governor Andy Beshear (D) in a statement.

“Stakeholder participation has been invaluable to the project team as we make plans to deliver a transportation solution that will benefit communities and all road users,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “Their voices, and the voices of everyone in the region, have and will continue to play an important role in making this project a success for residents on both sides of the river.”

“The federal approval is a major milestone for us, and we’re grateful to all our partners and communities for their feedback,” he said. “We look forward to completing this project, which will further boost our economic growth and create more good jobs for our families.”

Gov. DeWine. Photo by the Ohio Governor’s Office.

“This is an important step forward in bringing efficiency to our nation’s supply chain,” added Governor Mike DeWine (R) is a separate statement.

“The project will address one of the worst truck bottlenecks in the nation by improving safety and travel on an interstate connection that carries more than $400 billion worth of freight every year,” he said. “It’s also a big step in reducing the frustration and inconvenience drivers have experienced in the corridor for more than 20 years.”

“We will continue to engage with community members and listen to their feedback to obtain the best outcome for the people who rely on the corridor,” said Ohio DOT Director Jack Marchbanks. “The FHWA’s approval is important but so, too, is the quality of life for residents in southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky.”

[Editor’s note: In May 2023, Marchbanks took a “walking tour” with Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval of neighborhoods around the I-75 corridor — including Linn Street, West Court Street, Ezzard Charles Drive, Winchell Avenue, Wade Walk, and West Liberty Street – to get a ground-level view of the potential community impact from the massive Brent Spence Bridge project.]

The Brent Spence Bridge was built in the 1960s to carry approximately 80,000 vehicles a day, but now daily I-75/I-71 traffic load has reached 160,000 vehicles per day. In terms of federal support for the Brent Spence Bridge initiative, the FHWA issued a $1.3 billion grant to the project in January 2023.

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