The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Thursday, 02 January 2014 18:07cat

Toll Revenue Needed to Fund Brent Spence Bridge Project

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The Brent Spence Bridge alongside a rendering of a possible new design The Brent Spence Bridge alongside a rendering of a possible new design The Brent Spence

The Kentucky and Ohio Departments of Transportation announced that toll revenue would be required to fund the design and construction of a new Brent Spence Bridge. Current estimates place the cost of a new bridge at $3.57 billion.  The current Brent Spence Bridge is a double-decker cantilever truss bride that crosses the Ohio River.  It allows residents of Northern Kentucky to commute to Cincinnati, Ohio and vice versa.  The bridge was opened in 1963 and was designed to carry 85,000 vehicles per day.  As of 2007, 155,000 cars cross the bridge each day, and about 65% of the cars travel from Kentucky to Ohio.  In 2011, large pieces of concrete fell from the upper deck of the bridge onto the lower level, and the bridge was closed down for a day to repair the damage.  While it currently is considered to be structurally safe, many residents of Ohio and Kentucky have lost faith in the functionality of the original bridge.  As a result, the two states departments of transportation are currently studying the bridge to determine if it will be better to replace or rehabilitate the Brent Spence Bridge.

The announcement of toll revenue funding the design and construction of a new bridge has angered some commuters who use the bridge each day.  There is especially strong opposition in Northern Kentucky due to the expectation that the state’s residents will pay a disproportionately high percentage of the tolls because more vehicles originate from Kentucky than Ohio.  The residents would like to equal split the cost between the two states.  The report released on Tuesday does not recommend a dollar amount for the toll to cross the bridge, but it does say it will examine other similar projects and base the amount on those findings.  They also state that if tolls were not used to finance the project, the cost of the construction would be higher than both states funding for new projects for many years.  Some are hoping to delay the construction of the new bridge until federal funding could be used to offset some of the costs.  Other point to a recent bridge project in Louisville as proof that using toll-funded bonds to finance the project would not work.  A meeting between the Kenctucky governor and lawmakers is scheduled for this month to determine what steps will be taken next.


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