Kentucky, Ohio request nearly $2B for bridge improvements

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Ohio and Kentucky have asked the federal government to spend $2 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure deal to build a new Ohio River bridge and to fix an existing outdated span that has long been the source of frustration for commuters and politicians, their governors said Tuesday.

Overhauling the Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Cincinnati with northern Kentucky, was a big selling point for President Joe Biden during the debate over the federal infrastructure legislation.

He touted the project last July at a CNN town hall in Cincinnati, vowing his administration would “fix that damn bridge of yours” if the legislation passed. Just before signing the bill last November, Biden said he expected the bridge would finally get funding.

Governors from both states announced Tuesday that they jointly submitted an application asking for $1.66 billion in federal funding to make the needed improvements.

“The time is now to invest in transformative infrastructure that supports our growing workforce and safe travel along one of the nation’s most important commerce corridors,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat.

The bridge has become a bottleneck on a heavily used freight route that connects the Midwest and the South. Its traffic woes have been a symbol of the nation’s growing infrastructure needs for decades.

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he was optimistic that the federal government would award the funding.

“With the current supply chain crisis in our country, the issue of ensuring that this major transportation corridor stays open and moving has never been more urgent,” DeWine said.

The Federal Highway Administration declared the bridge functionally obsolete in the 1990s because its narrow lanes carry more cars than it was designed for — the 160,000 vehicles it now sees daily is double than what was intended.