Out-of-town clients of Cushman & Wakefield are taking notice of our big summer inconvenience – the improvement work being done on both directions of the Brent Spence Bridge, which carries Interstates 75 and 71 across the Ohio River. While we’re not encouraging our clients to stay away, we do suggest that they plan accordingly.
The delays and back-ups caused by the lane closures for the next 60 days are prompting national and renewed local attention on one of our region’s – and the nation’s – biggest challenges: how to pay for infrastructure upgrades. The 53-year-old bridge is just one of thousands of bridges the Federal Highway Administration considers functionally obsolete. While not in danger of collapsing, the bridge was designed to handle 80,000 vehicles daily but now handles more than twice that much.
The good news is that Kentucky officials opted to make the $38 million improvement project happen for just 60 days rather than the typical six months. But that still doesn’t ease the pain for this monster of a project that is making crossing the river a logistical challenge.
A new poll by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber shows that local voters’ view tolls as an appropriate funding source for a new bridge. More than three out of five voters view a $1 toll as being acceptable. Ohio officials have long been considered open to tolling. Kentucky has been the holdout opposed to tolls, but Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has recently directed his administration to come up with a solution.
Replacement of the Brent Spence is critical to our region’s future as the American Transportation Research Institute has ranked the bridge as the nation’s fifth worst choke point for freight traffic. Let’s hope we can soon tell our visiting clients that we will have a solution to their river-crossing woes.
Douglas Bolton, Market Leader & Managing Principal