The Brent Spence Bridge has been a focal point lately. It has been addressed by The President of United States, politicians, and governmental departments. The reason for all the attention is that the bridge is out of date. It needs to be replaced by a bridge that can adequately handle its daily load of almost 200,000 vehicles.
To raise the funds for the construction of the new bridge (excess of $500 million) a toll has been suggested. The bridge is already congested, so the drive time related to adding a toll has commuters rolling their eyes.
In order to collect information on the bridge I turned to Mr. Brandon Seiter who is the District Bridge Engineer with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Mr. Seiter was extremely helpful with his boundless knowledge on the bridge supplying FTM with factoids, and a link to the Brent Spence project website. Here are the facts that Brandon provided:
· The bridge opened in 1963.
· The bridge is a double-deck steel thru truss.
· The main truss spans of the bridge are 1,736 feet long; the longest span is 830 feet long.
· The bridge has an Average Daily Traffic, or ADT, of approximately 175,000 vehicles (2012). The bridge was designed to handle half of that traffic.
· The bridge is structurally sound; congestion, traffic safety, and functionality are issues though.
· The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Ohio Department of Transportation are currently collaborating on studies for a proposed new bridge, improvements to the existing bridge, and improvements to the I-75/71 corridors in Northern Kentucky and Ohio.
I did some research on my own, and found that The National Bridge Inventory lists the Brent Spence Bridge as functionally obsolete due to the capacity, sight distance, and safety concerns associated with its current configuration. Hearing that a bridge is obsolete makes me a little uneasy, so it was good to learn from Brandon that it is structurally sound. While there is no threat of the bridge collapsing into the Ohio River, the bridge is still unsafe. The danger ranges from the lack of a shoulder on either level, to the limited sight that is available while traversing the bridge. It will be interesting to see the proposals for the new bridge, and even more interesting to learn how that bridge will be paid for.
I want to thank Brandon Seiter for taking the time to supply the facts for this article. If you want more details and a more in depth look at the Brent Spence project, here is the link again.