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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Gov. Beshear: Brent Spence Bridge may be closed for weeks

Two-vehicle collision, resulting fire temporarily shuts down bridge; no injuries, deaths reported


Today, Gov. Andy Beshear and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Secretary Jim Gray updated Kentuckians on the early morning vehicle crash and fire on the I-75 Brent Spence Bridge between Covington and Cincinnati. 


Fortunately, there are no known serious injuries or deaths resulting from the crash or fire, according to reports from the scene.

"It's too premature to speculate the amount of damage the fire has had on the bridge. The bridge, at best, will be closed several days, but we ought to be prepared for significantly more disruption than that," said Gov. Beshear. 

“This is a very important bridge, not just for the region but for the nation, and we are fully committed to getting it back into service. But the safety of the public and of our and Ohio’s employees is absolutely critical,” said Gov. Beshear. “In the next hours, maybe a little longer, we need your patience. That patience is necessary to make sure we don’t send anybody to do the inspection or to clean up the debris until we know they will be OK.”

Following the media briefing, Gov. Beshear signed a regional state of emergency declaration in order to adequately respond to the emergency situation. The Governor said, if needed, he would request federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation and has a call arranged with Secretary Elaine Chao this afternoon.

“This has been a very quick mobilization of resources, and we are going to do everything possible to restore the traffic and supply chain that this represents in this area,” Secretary Gray said.


The information Gov. Beshear and Secretary Gray have as of 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11 is:

  • At approximately 2:45 a.m. EST, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) truck jackknifed while driving northbound (lower deck) on the Brent Spence Bridge. Officials do not know why the truck jackknifed.
  • After the CMV truck jackknifed, a second truck carrying potassium hydroxide crashed into it.
  • The collision caused a fire on the bridge. Emergency management personnel said 400 gallons of diesel fuel was the main cause of the fire. An unknown amount of diesel fuel spilled and burned in the fire.
  • The fire has been contained.
  • Both northbound and southbound I-75 lanes have been closed to allow clean-up efforts and engineers to inspect the bridge.
  • The Brent Spence was built in 1963 is a sound bridge. The Brent Spence expansion project was to build an additional bridge, not a replacement bridge.
  • The bridge cannot be examined for damage until it cools down enough to be safe for inspectors. The fire burned at up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Traffic will be detoured to I-275 and I-471.
  • By agreement between Kentucky and Ohio, KYTC is the maintenance lead on the Brent Spence Bridge. The inspection and solution process following this incident will be a joint effort between both states and the Federal Highway Administration.
  • Inspectors will determine the extent of damage and any structural damage. Initially, officials know that there is visible damage to the bridge and its concrete decking.
  • The bridge will remain closed until its safety can be guaranteed. KYTC’s top priority, as always, is protecting Kentuckians and all visitors to the commonwealth.
  • At best, the bridge will be closed for several days, but travelers should be prepared for the possibility of weeks. Every reopening estimate at this time is purely speculative.
  • Employers who are able should allow their employees who can to work from home.
  • The next scheduled work on the Brent Spence Bridge is a painting job, which was scheduled to be let to contract next month. No construction work was included in the current State Highway Plan.
  • The Transportation Cabinet and Gov. Beshear’s office will continue to provide updates and information.  

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