The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet share the responsibility for improving and maintaining the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor. Together, a bi-state team working collaboratively will manage this $3.6 billion project to improve travel throughout the region and nationally.
Originally designed to carry 80,000 vehicles per day, the Brent Spence Bridge included just three lanes of traffic running on each of its two decks when it opened in 1963. It quickly became a critical component for both local and interstate traffic. Area residents use it to get around town, regional travelers cross the Ohio River, and trucks transport goods — more than $2 billion worth per day — along the I-71/75 corridor to Canada, Florida, and all parts in between.
Thanks to rapid growth of the Greater Cincinnati region over the past 60 years, today the Brent Spence Bridge handles nearly twice as much traffic as originally intended and does not meet current width standards. The addition of a fourth lane of traffic on each deck in 1985 increased the bridge’s daily capacity, but at the expense of full-width emergency lanes. While the bridge is still structurally sound and safe, a solution is needed to alleviate congestion and improve safety on the region’s most widely traveled river crossing, ranked as one of the worst bottlenecks in the U.S., according to the American Transportation Research Institute.
City and state governments from both Ohio and Kentucky have been working toward a solution since 2005 with an Environmental Assessment – but even with a solution in place, funding was needed. When Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November 2021, it offered a chance to secure a grant that would make those plans reality. Also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, in January 2023 the federal government awarded more than $1.6 billion to improve the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor. Ohio and Kentucky will fund the balance of the cost of the project, which is estimated to be about $3.6 billion in total.
The Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project will include:
- Improvements to the Brent Spence Bridge, which will continue to carry local traffic to and from downtown Cincinnati and Covington.
- The construction of a two-deck companion bridge west of the Brent Spence Bridge to carry regional and national travelers through the area.
- Improvements to the adjoining eight-mile roadway network (three in Ohio, five in Kentucky), such as the redesign of ramp configurations to improve traffic flow.
- Amenities such as pedestrian and bike paths to connect communities and improve access to transit stops, jobs, healthcare, and more.
- Aesthetic improvements such as lighting, planters, and translucent screen walls on overpasses to instill a walkable, urban sense of place.
The Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project will be a regional effort that will grow businesses and build careers, while transforming one of the nation’s most important freight corridors. It will be a landmark project for decades to come and a source of pride and achievement for Kentucky, Ohio, and the entire Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region.