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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Update: Brent Spence Bridge on schedule to reopen to traffic next week

Transportation Secretary Jim Gray Announces Crews are 'Rounding Third' Once Final Concrete Work Occurs This Week for Brent Spence Bridge Repair Project

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary (KYTC) Jim Gray today said the anticipated final pouring of new concrete signals the final stretch of work needed to complete the emergency repair project before reopening the Brent Spence Bridge.

“We’re rounding third and heading for home as crews work tirelessly to reopen the bridge to traffic next Wednesday. We remain on track to return a safe and sound bridge to travelers before the holidays and have plans in place to keep work moving despite winter weather,” Secretary Gray said. 

The Brent Spence Bridge, which carries Interstates 71 and 75 over the Ohio River between Covington and Cincinnati and is a critical corridor for interstate travel and commerce, has been closed since Nov. 11 because of a crash and fire involving two commercial vehicles.

Inspections of the bridge began immediately and an emergency project to repair and reopen the bridge started the following week. Prime contractor, Kokosing Construction Co., of Westerville, Ohio, has a target reopening date of Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Secretary Gray provided the following updates today:

  • The final concrete pour on the upper deck was completed earlier this week when crews installed a new barrier wall. The new concrete roadway has cured and the multiple tests of various sections of the new deck indicate that the surface has met or exceeded all required safety standards. The new concrete roadway on the upper deck has gained the necessary strength to handle live traffic.

  • The damaged layer of concrete on the lower deck has been removed and crews are preparing to pour the new layer of concrete later this week. That will complete the concrete work.

  • Crews have completed a number of maintenance projects on and around the bridge while traffic is restricted to minimize future traffic interruptions and maximize efficiency. Overhead signs for the lower deck have been cleaned. A drain has been repaired, and the northbound approach to the bridge on I-71/I-75 has been repaved and restriped.

Throughout the emergency project, traffic traveling north on I-71/I-75 has been detoured onto I-275 and directed toward other river crossings in the area. For purposes of the detour, Secretary Gray signed an official order that provides for a single lane of I-71/75 to remain open north of the I-275 interchange to give passenger vehicles access to downtown Covington via 12th Street and 5th Street. Access also is permitted to commercial vehicles making local deliveries. The order is to remain in effect until the project is completed.

Repair of the bridge will restore an important regional connection and also ensure the long-term viability of the bridge.

“The Brent Spence is safe and there are no plans to replace it,” Secretary Gray said. “Conversations regarding the bridge have long been about its capacity, not its condition. We continue to work with our partners at the Ohio Department of Transportation about plans to build a new companion bridge next to the existing bridge.”

The Brent Spence Bridge was designed to carry 80,000 to 100,000 vehicles per day, but it now carries twice that volume.

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