BSBC Project team recommends innovations to reconnect communities and improve safety

Friday May 31, 2024

New “street grid” from downtown Cincinnati to Queensgate and reduced impacts to Goebel Park in Covington among seven innovations revealed today

FRANKFORT, Ky., May 31, 2024 – Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that a new “street grid” reconnecting downtown Cincinnati to Queensgate and reduced impacts to Goebel Park in Covington are among seven major innovations to enhance the transformative $3.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge Corridor (BSBC) Project based on engineering evaluations and public feedback.

The recommended design refinements meet or exceed the contract objectives of improving quality, reducing costs, shortening schedule, improving safety and/or supporting local communities. More than 100 suggestions submitted to the project team from the public, key local stakeholders, and the design-build team were evaluated based on objectives.

“These innovations are a key part of continuing the transformational changes we’re making to boost Kentucky’s economy and ensure a higher quality of life here and beyond our borders,” said Gov. Beshear. “They are a testament to the collaboration, teamwork, and goals each state shares to build a better corridor while fulfilling our good neighbor pledge.”

“These thoughts and ideas will make the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor even better,” said Gov. DeWine. “These enhancements aren’t just about reducing congestion on an interstate, it’s about improving safety, reconnecting communities, and enhancing the lives of those who live, work, and visit the area.”

Ohio Refinements

The project team improved the project in Ohio with four innovative refinements.

First, the project team will free up an additional acre for development or green space by moving southbound I-75 to the western edge of the corridor. In addition, this move allows the roadway to be constructed while minimizing disruptions to traffic on existing southbound I-75. The extra acre for development or green space is in addition to the 9.5 acres that were freed up in November 2022, bringing the total to nearly 11 acres.

Second, to reconnect the downtown Cincinnati street grid with Queensgate, a new intersection will be added at West Ninth and Gest streets, and improvements will be made at the intersection of West Seventh and Gest streets. The project also includes extending West Fifth and West Sixth streets across I-75 to Queensgate. Finally, the West Fifth extension will enable the roadway to connect with Gest in the future. This design will improve safety for pedestrians and those using the shared use path by shortening the distance across I-75 and reducing the speed limit.

“As I walked the neighborhood west of downtown with Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval and his team last year, we discussed ways to improve the city and the need to connect neighborhoods previously divided by the interstate,” said Director Marchbanks. “Our team really rose to the occasion and is making that happen.”

Third, the project team plans to combine the I-75 southbound ramps to 2nd and 3rd streets, which will reduce both costs and the project footprint.

Finally, the project team will reconfigure the U.S. 50 lanes, which will improve safety and traffic flow for this important east-west connection.

“As a native Cincinnatian, I am committed to ensuring this project makes our community better. With these innovations, I firmly believe we are doing something we can be proud of for generations to come,” said BSBC Ohio Project Manager Tommy Arnold.

Kentucky Refinements

Three significant design improvements are planned in Northern Kentucky.

“From our earlier commitments to separate stormwater systems and pilot Kentucky’s first transparent noise screens, these latest innovations are further proof we’re listening to input and refining the project to make it even better,” said Secretary Gray.

The first innovation lowers the profile of the interstate by as much as 30 ft between Ninth Street and the new companion bridge, addressing a visibility concern raised by Covington residents during the environmental phase of the project.  The height reduction is achieved by shifting the southbound ramp to the local roadway network a few hundred feet to the south, aligning the exit ramp on the east side of the interstate and closing the local Fifth Street roadway between Crescent Avenue and Philadelphia Street. In doing so, Fifth Street traffic will be redistributed to Third Street allowing for a gateway intersection to be constructed at Crescent and Third.  

“In working closely with the City of Covington, we made design refinements that reflect the requests of their residents that also integrate seamlessly into their plans for the Covington Central Riverfront development,” said BSBC Kentucky Project Manager Stacee Hans. 

Second, entrance locations to the interstate system are being adjusted to line up more like they are today near Pike Street.  This change addresses concerns raised during the environmental phase about increased traffic changing the residential character of Ninth Street.

“With this improvement, Ninth Street will not see an influx in traffic. In addition, keeping interstate access at Pike Street will minimize the impacts on Goebel Park, both physically and visually,” Hans said.

And finally, the interstate alignment through the “cut in the hill” just south of Covington will be shifted to the east to eliminate the need for significant excavation of the rock embankment and construction of a retaining wall. This will significantly reduce costs and improve the construction schedule.

About the Innovation Process

Shortly after being named prime contractor last year, the Walsh Kokosing Design-Build Team began evaluating 117 suggested changes to the base plan for the BSBC Project. To date, 26 are recommended to be incorporated into the project’s design. Twenty-four were dismissed because they were not feasible or didn’t meet project objectives. Sixty-seven suggestions, most of which are focused on detailed design, are still under review while the design process continues.

The next step in the process will be to continue refining the project through detailed design and updating and confirming traffic and environmental studies, as needed.

For a description of major innovations recommended to be incorporated into the project’s base design, visit the project website Document Center.

About the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project

Stretching from the Western Hills Viaduct in Ohio to Dixie Highway in Kentucky, the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project is designed to improve approximately five miles of Interstates 71 and 75 in Kentucky and three miles in Ohio. The project, which has been in development since 2005, will include the addition of a new companion bridge immediately to the west of the existing Brent Spence Bridge. The goals are to reduce congestion, improve traffic flow and safety, and maintain key regional and national transportation corridors. 

For more information, visit BrentSpenceBridgeCorridor.com.