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Cincinnati: Brent Spence Bridge

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From Friday’s Cincinnati Enquirer:

 

Plans show options for Brent Spence

By James Pilcher

The Cincinnati Enquirer

 

After seven months of study, Kentucky officials have given the public its first glimpse at how the state could fix or replace the Brent Spence Bridge, the aging 40-year-old span now carrying Interstates 71 and 75 across the Ohio River.

 

A new bridge, built farther to the west, would carry all I-75 traffic in four of the six preliminary scenarios under review. Those four plans call for rehabilitating the Brent Spence or building a second new bridge at its location. Three of those four concepts would have the rehabbed Brent Spence or a new structure carry Interstate 71 and local traffic.

 

Building a new western bridge could avoid the traffic disruptions that would likely follow for several years if the Brent Spence were torn down and replaced where it is - as proposed in the other two scenarios.

 

But land in Cincinnati and Covington would need to be acquired for a new western bridge, forcing some businesses to relocate.

 

bridge_180.jpg

From Kentucky, a view of the Ohio riverfront west of downtown made in September shows the area where a new span to replace or augment the Brent Spence Bridge (leftmost bridge) could be located. The western alignment is needed to avoid a Cinergy substation (directly on the riverbank) and historic Longworth Hall behind it.

 

FULL STORY

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013104_borgman_600x392.jpg

 

The six options:

 

Plan 1: New I-75 bridge and rehab Brent Spence Bridge

Plan 2: New I-75 bridge and new I-71 bridge

Plan 3: New I-75 bridge with new interchange

Plan 4: Replace Brent Spence only with 10-lane bridge

Plan 5: Replace Brent Spence with two bridges side-by-side

Plan 6: New I-71/75 bridge and rehab Brent Spence

 

READ THE PROS AND CONS AND VOTE HERE

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And, the financing, from today’s Cincinnati Enquirer:

 

bridge_390.gif

 

Bridge backers race clock

Congressmen make funding for I-75 span a priority

By James Pilcher

The Cincinnati Enquirer

 

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., on Friday said he is "very confident" that the Brent Spence Bridge replacement project this spring will be awarded at least half the needed $750 million.

 

The highway portion of a key federal transportation funding bill hits the Senate floor soon.

 

Kentucky highway officials earlier this week presented six concepts for replacing the bridge. A new bridge, built farther to the west, would carry all Interestate 75 traffic in four of the six preliminary scenarios.

 

"This is a very long and hard process, but we have been doing a job of selling that this is a project of need for the entire country," said Bunning. "I have been selling it on all the committees that I am on. And my confidence is very high that we'll get all the money necessary for all the engineering and studies, and even some construction money."

 

A group of Northern Kentucky business and political leaders will go to Washington next week to push once again for the project.

 

FULL STORY

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More news regarding funding. It's kind of a long article, so I'll post some of it and then put a link at the end:

 

Bill delay may aid Brent Spence

Other regional projects could be put off, canceled

By James Pilcher

The Cincinnati Enquirer

 

Election-year politics on Capitol Hill might create breathing room for local forces lobbying for $750 million to replace the Brent Spence Bridge, but could deal a setback to other regional transportation projects.

 

The proposed six-year highway bill passed the Senate at $318 billion and is under consideration at $356 billion in the House. In a bid to avoid a confrontation, the Republican leadership of the House Transportation Committee said Thursday that a two-year extension of the current legislation is being considered.

 

The White House wants a six-year program set at $256 billion, and President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that includes a gasoline-tax increase.

 

House Republican leaders say a two-year extension would provide time for negotiations on longer-term funding. Transportation Committee officials wouldn't say how a two-year bill might take shape.

 

The extension would buy time for Tristate interests to lobby for funding to replace the bridge, which spans the Ohio River and links Northern Kentucky to downtown Cincinnati as part of Interstate 75 and Interstate 71.

 

But officials fear a delay in hammering out a definitive six-year deal might slow other projects such as the Interstate 75 upgrade in Ohio, improvements to U.S. 42 in Northern Kentucky and work on the Eastern Corridor in Ohio.

 

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

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The Enquirer offered this editorial regarding the prior story in today's (Saturday) paper:

 

Stop stalling mega highway bill

Editorial

 

The pile-up in Washington over delivering a new six-year highway funding bill threatens Cincinnati-area projects including a new Brent Spence Bridge. Multibillion-dollar gaps divide the House, Senate and President Bush on the mother of all pork bills, and now congressional leaders are rumored to be about to head for the exit ramp and approve only a two-year extension, likely to hold highway spending at roughly current levels.

 

A long-term transportation bill already is way overdue, and further delay only will set back hundreds of road construction projects in Ohio, Kentucky and other states. A presidential election year is no excuse. Congress ought to keep bumping heads until it settles on a long-term funding deal that can withstand scrutiny by Bush and voters.

 

The House, Senate and Bush are all over the map on total spending. The Senate passed a $318 billion bill; the House is looking at $356 billion. Bush wants it held to $256 billion and has vowed to veto any bill that includes higher gasoline taxes, which pay for road projects.

 

A short delay, at first glance, might seem to favor the $750 million project to replace the 40-year-old Brent Spence span, a regional and national chokepoint for Interstates 75 and 71. An extension would give leaders here more time to lobby Washington and buy time for a two-year, $2.2 million federally funded study to nail down exactly what sort of bridge or bridges are needed.

 

But highway planners need years and some minimal certainty about funding to produce a workable design. An Ohio River bridge project like the Brent Spence can take 10 years to plan and build. Kentucky owns the bridge and is responsible for overseeing its replacement, but Ohio also expects to spend at least $250 million on its side of the river for new approaches. Neither Kentucky nor Ohio officials welcome any lengthy delay in a six-year federal highway bill. A two-year extension not only would make design studies iffier and could require starting over when a final bill does pass, but an extension at current spending levels would jeopardize other road projects throughout our region.

 

It would slow plans to upgrade I-75 in Ohio, U.S. 42 in Kentucky and the I-275 Eastern Corridor. "What that would force us to do is spend a great deal of money on engineering without knowing when we could start construction on many of these projects or to what level we can build," said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Gordon Proctor. Projects in both states might have to be downsized or killed.

 

Bush, facing a tough election challenge, understandably views a gas tax increase or larger deficits as poison. The easy way out is not an embarrassing veto but kicking this mega-pork bill into next year. But members of Congress need to remember that voters stuck in gridlock or orange-barrel zones are not likely to be soothed by the promise of relief years from now. Put the pedal to the metal and produce a long-term bill this year.

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New bridge options trimmed to 5

By Bob Driehaus

Post staff reporter

 

The list of possible routes for a new span to replace or augment the Brent Spence Bridge has been narrowed to five options.

 

Transportation engineers in Ohio and Kentucky at a meeting Wednesday shelved one plan that would have razed the existing spaghetti of interchanges in Cincinnati and created new interchanges just west of downtown. The discarded configuration would have razed several warehouses and an aging office park while opening up prime real estate downtown.

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• Alternate 4: Build a five- or six-lane bridge just east of a razed Brent Spence. That would necessitate reworking interchanges on Fort Washington Way and would take out the Holiday Inn and a portion of Covington's Lexus dealership lot.

I still don't see how this would work, despite hearing it before. A bridge to the east would make it very difficult to link to FWW without some very treacherous ramps and some difficult construction.

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A miniscule bit of funding...erm, possibly (from today's Enquirer):

 

 

Funding includes Brent Spence

By James Pilcher

The Cincinnati Enquirer

 

The Brent Spence Bridge replacement project, which could cost $750 million or more, would get only $7 million over the next six years under the most recent version of a highway-funding bill being considered by Congress.

 

But for local officials, who have been seeking at least half of the money to help start environmental and design studies, just being mentioned in the six-year bill is a major step. They say there is still time to get more money.

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More funding news from today's Enquirer:

 

 

Plea made for new I-75 bridge

D.C. official here, discusses funding

By James Pilcher

The Cincinnati Enquirer

 

AVONDALE - A White House official visiting here renewed the threat that President Bush could veto any transportation funding bill that the president thinks costs too much. But what a veto could mean for a Brent Spence Bridge replacement isn't clear, Ruben Barrales said Thursday.

 

The White House wants to spend $256 billion, but that's well below what either the House or Senate want. Unless money for the bridge is included in the current bill, the replacement project could be delayed six years until the next round of funding.

 

E-mail jpilcher@enquirer.com

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Just fund it already!!!!!

 

 

Need for new I-75 span acknowledged

But finding $750M will be hard to do

By James Pilcher

The Cincinnati Enquirer

 

HEBRON - The proposed replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge "is on track to be a great project," a federal transportation official said Thursday.

 

But Martin T. Whitmer Jr., deputy chief of staff for Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, also reiterated the Bush administration's position of holding the line on transportation spending.

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It's weird how they can fund the 12 billion dollar big dig that serves only the boston area, But they find it hard to come up with 750 million to fund a bridge that basicly is the backbone of the midwest and south.

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Bah...jerkoffs.  From the 7/13/04 Enquirer:

 

 

Federal official unswayed on need for more bridge money

Guided tour: Replacing Brent Spence

By James Pilcher

Enquirer staff writer

 

Despite a guided tour Monday of the Brent Spence Bridge, the No. 2 federal transportation official was standing pat: no more money to replace the outmoded bridge.

 

U.S. Transportation Department assistant secretary Emil Frankel acknowledged the need for a new bridge, saying, "It was built in a different era.

 

Read the Enquirer's SPECIAL REPORT

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they will never get funding out of washington. too much bickering, too many special interest groups wanting their piece of the pie

 

the bridge will fall into the river one day, and all we will get are the same old bullsht excuses from the politicians. they'd rather line their pockets than actually do their job and pass legistlation that helps this country. highway bills are a perfect example of that. the projects that get funded are the ones who have the biggest lobbiests with the biggest gifts for congressmen.

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Personally I hope they don't do anything at all. I know that sounds really bad but adding new lanes or a new bigger bridge will not make traffic any better, only worse. There was a recent study done by UC-Berkeley and it found that for every 10 percent increase in roadway capacity, traffic increased 9 percent. People will see the new bigger roadway and start driving on it if they haven't before, leading back to where we are now.

 

My ideal solution is just take the money that it would cost to add a new bridge or lanes and invest in alternative transit such as rail or carpool lanes. The alternative transit solution would also create new jobs. For every billion dollars reallocated from road-building to transit creates seven thousand jobs. The proposed plan is asking for $750 million that would equal to roughly 5,500 new jobs to Cincinnati's economy and tax base. Oh well, I know it will never happen this way because the people in Indian Hill that controll this area will never give up their SUVs and ride the train with the poor people from downtown. It's time for me to shut up now.

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^ mohr37, that's all well and good, but you can't just NOT replace the bridge. It's a major national corridor and you can't just let the bridge fall into the river.

 

^ napier1...there never was an underground tunnel option. That was a joke.

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To me I think Ohio would like nothing more than to have more residents live in Ohio to avoiding having to have to cross the bridge.

But the bridge has to be widen or another one for 75 alone and give 71 the bridge only. That plan might cost more, but at least you would have one bridge open the whole time during constuction.

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Well, better news at least.  This story is like a f**king yo-yo.  From the 7/23/04 Enquirer:

 

 

Brent Spence project could get more money

Bigger transportation bill in works

By James Pilcher

Enquirer staff writer

 

A compromise by the White House Thursday over federal highway funding has local advocates of the Brent Spence Bridge replacement hoping it could mean more money for the project here.

 

A preliminary estimate for replacing the 40-year-old bridge is $750 million, and area business and political leaders have been pushing for money for almost two years.

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Tra-la-la-la-la...the ongoing ballad of the bridge...8/27/04 Enquirer:

 

 

Brent Spence, 'an invitation to disaster,' may get funds

By James Pilcher

Enquirer staff writer

 

A key member of a congressional committee hammering out a long-term highway funding bill Thursday told area officials pushing for replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge they should ask only for what they will spend over the next six years.

 

After a tour of the nearly 41-year old bridge, Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, said the project and its estimated $750 million price tag has a good chance of getting some funding in the bill now being debated.

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From the "Looking for any tiny good thing that could come from Bush's re-election" Department...from the 11/5/04 Cincinnati Post:

 

 

For region, it's Brent Spence

By Bob Driehaus

Post staff reporter

 

President Bush said Thursday he plans during his second term to spend the political capital he earned with his re-election.

 

Legislators in Ohio and Kentucky hope to spend some political capital of their own -- earned by an area that elected Republicans galore on Tuesday -- to expedite replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge.

 

http://www.cincypost.com/2004/11/05/bridge110504.html

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Monday and Tuesday' date=' the Ohio Department of Transportation will make emergency repairs to steel beams to fix corrosion that was discovered during a recent inspection. [/quote']

 

That's always nice to know...Silver Bridge collapse redux?

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Here's the latest...from the 11/23/04 Enquirer:

 

 

Senators get $4M for bridge

Kentucky, Ohio team up over Brent Spence plan

By James Pilcher

Enquirer staff writer

 

Senators from both sides of the Ohio River joined forces on the most recent appropriations bill and secured $4 million for the effort to replace or augment Brent Spence Bridge.

 

U.S. Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine, both Ohio Republicans, joined Sens. Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republicans, in putting in requests for up to approximately $15 million to keep studies and design work going. A conference committee last weekend kept $4 million in the bill that passed late Saturday.

 

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041123/NEWS0103/411230340

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I was just reading that in the paper up at Dairy Queen. It's nice to see this project moving along! We might actually see this thing replaced in our lifetime!

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Ohio in control...from the 12/1/04 Cincinnati Post:

 

 

Ohio to handle bridge study

By Bob Driehaus

Post staff reporter

 

Ohio will oversee the next phase of the massive $750 million project to replace the aging and overused Brent Spence Bridge.

Officials with the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet would not comment in advance about details of a new joint agreement that will be disclosed Thursday.

 

http://www.cincypost.com/2004/12/01/brent120104.html

 

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Environmental

I'm not an expert on environmental studies so help me out here.

Does it really take 5 years to do an environmental study or is this kinda like a job security thing?

 

True ..What else can be put into the river while building a bridge. Let see there is raw sewage, maybe some left over radioactivity from 3 mile island.

 

The Environmental Studies are much more than what folks think of environmental...well the "green" stuff

The studies include noise, environmental justice, aquatic, historical  etc etc. not only on the bridge, but on the land too, we are talking about some major ramp locations and right of way pruchasing

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Yay for lobbyists!  :(  Well, it's the only way to get things done in the current political climate.  Anyhoo, from the 12/16/04 Cincinnati Post:

 

 

Same tune -- different audience

Group plans broad Brent bridge lobby

By Bob Driehaus

Post staff reporter

 

When Northern Kentucky business, government and education leaders take their annual lobbying trip to Washington in February, they'll be singing a familiar tune -- about replacing the Brent Spence Bridge -- to a new audience.

 

Kentucky and Ohio senators and Greater Cincinnati U.S. representatives are fully on board with the push to find funding for the $750 million project.

 

http://www.cincypost.com/2004/12/16/fly121604.html

 

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7 lanes in each direction?????

 

The Brent Spence Bridge could handle its current traffic load "indefinitely" as long as it is properly maintained over the next 16 years, according to a new report by the highway departments of Kentucky and Ohio.

 

The findings counter a 1999 study that concluded that the 41-year-old Brent Spence had 12 to 15 years of structural integrity left. Officials from both states stress the results don't diminish the need for a new bridge.

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050109/NEWS01/501090362/1056/news01

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Ahem, I called it months ago when I speculated that 15~ years was actually an exaggeration, possibly one to get people's attention. 

 

 

OPTIONS FORREPLACEMENT

Here are the five options being forwarded from the feasibility study, according to a draft of the final report:

• Rehabilitate the Brent Spence Bridge for use by Interstate 71 traffic and build a new I-75 bridge west of Longworth Hall.

 

This is what's going to happen.  The Brent Spence will be closed after a new six lane bridge opens for a year, it's rehabbed and restriped for three lanes on each deck.  It makes way more sense in light of the above revelations and is it coincidence that it's listed at the top?  Two lanes will lead to/from I-71; the remaining lane wil go to/from 2nd/3rd St. and 5th/6th St.  The 6th St. Expressway will also feed into this bridge.  I-75's bridge will have three lanes each direction and will meet the existing routing at Ezzard Charles Drive.  Some possibilty of the I-75 connections remaining on the Brent Spence allowing it to take traffic in the event of big accidents on the new bridge.   

 

 

 

• Build a new bridge for I-71 in the current Brent Spence alignment or slightly to the east and build a new I-75 bridge west of Longworth Hall.

 

Nope.

 

• Replace the Brent Spence with a single bridge carrying seven lanes of traffic in each direction, either in the alignment of the existing bridge or slightly to the east.

 

Nope.

 

• Replace the Brent Spence with two bridges slightly to the east of the existing bridge or in the current alignment, one carrying I-75 and the other I-71.

 

Nope.

 

• Rehabilitate the bridge for local traffic only and build a new bridge to the west of Longworth Hall to carry both I-71 and I-75.

 

No way because of the ramp connections to Ft. Washington Way.  But what about light rail on the lower deck of the Brent Spence?  Or turning it into the Purple People Bridge West?  Or Condos?   

 

 

 

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• Rehabilitate the Brent Spence Bridge for use by Interstate 71 traffic and build a new I-75 bridge west of Longworth Hall

 

 

Is it me or is that bridge is going to be built at an angle??? or you can kiss that new hotel and williys goodbye? And anything east would take away the Quality inn(radison inn)?

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Yeah, it looks like it's going to be built at a slight angle, but that's nothing unusual.  My guess is that some of the Queensgate area buildings could be bridged, but I'm not going to speculate on which ones.  In certain cases the cost of building long-span deck girders outweigh the cost of buying the property.  Another major issue is the possible double-decking of the new bridge and its approach, which would half its profile, but some construction and maintenance costs supposedly go up, again possibly surpassing the cost of additional property. 

 

Also, look at option 6 and see that the Brent Spence is rehabbed to just 2X2 lanes.  This might be a misprint, but would offer the advantage of two emergency shoulders and reduced stress on the bridge. 

 

And another point to make is that by rehabbing the Brent Spence a new bridge would be smaller, cheaper, built more quickly, and it could also be built in a utilitarian and less expensive fashion.  The Brent Spence, C&O, and Clay Wade Bailey bridges would all have to be removed or replaced before this new I-75 bridge would be in clear view from downtown or sit in more attractive company.  The only thing I see being more expensive by keeping the Brent Spence active is that the Kentucky flyover approaches would have to rise above an already elevated double-decked roadway, possibly dictating a significantly higher bridge and higher Cincinnati approach.  And if the new bridge is itself double-decked, the top deck would be 20-30 feet higher than the top deck of the Brent Spence.     

 

 

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    Jake, I respect your opinion and technical skills and agree that you picked the best of the presented options, but if I were a betting man I would say that what will actually happen is option 0, the default option, which is "do nothing."

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