Addressing the congestion in the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor by moving forward with this project is important to our region because it will improve safety and foster job creation and economic development. It is also important to remember that there is a cost of doing nothing.
The primary reason for the project is to make the corridor safer for drivers and their passengers. While the bridge is not in danger of falling down, it is functionally obsolete, and does not meet current capacity needs and design standards. For example, it was designed to accommodate 80,000 vehicles per day but today carries more than twice that. Updates to the bridge in 1986 added a fourth lane by eliminating the shoulders and reducing the widths of the existing lanes. While some capacity was gained, the lack of shoulders means there is no safe haven for stranded motorists and even minor fender-benders tie up traffic because the crash cannot be moved out of the traffic flow.
As a result, the existing corridor has a crash rate that is three to five times higher than the rest of the Ohio and Kentucky interstate systems. On average, there are 650 calls for help made by motorists stranded in the corridor each year. From 2004 through 2014, there have been 22 fatalities in the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor: 12 on the Kentucky approach, eight on the Ohio approach and two on the bridge itself.
The Brent Spence project means jobs and economic development. The project will yield $18.9 billion in benefits to commuters, shippers and manufacturers in the 20 years following completion of the project, based on a 2009 Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) study commissioned by former Congressmen Geoff Davis and Steve Driehaus.
An improved I-75/I-71 corridor, including a new bridge, will enhance regional economic growth by eliminating the major congestion point that has historically been a deterrent to recruiting new companies to the region. Expanding the corridor will reduce wasted fuel by more than 75 percent and will reduce traffic delays by almost 80 percent, according to the TTI study.
There is a cost to doing nothing. This section of I-75/I-71 has operational and geometric issues which cause safety concerns and until those issues are addressed the concerns will remain. Traffic congestion attributed to the Brent Spence Bridge costs an average of 3.6 million hours of delay for passenger cars yearly. In addition, each year, users of this corridor waste an estimated 1.6 million gallons of fuel. That figure will increase to 5.7 million gallons per year by 2030. Every month of delay adds about $7 million and every year of delay adds $75 million to $85 million to the project cost due to inflation.