Congressman Davis: Legislature 'failed to prioritize' the Brent Spence Bridge

04/30/2012 09:51 AM

While most of the ink spilled over Kentucky’s $4.5 billion road project focused on the personal showdown between the governor and Senate president, Republican Congresman Geoff Davis said the coverage missed a bigger story: how a key bridge got the shaft.

The Brent Spence Bridge is considered functionally obsolete even though it continues to carry $400 billion worth of freight on I-71 and I-75 across the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

And Davis wrote in his weekly column that Gov. Steve Beshear and the legislature ignored the need by allotting $43.78 million for the project — $24.22 million less than what the project called for by July when the detailed design phase for a new bridge was supposed to commence.

Construction of a new bridge is tentatively supposed to start in 2016, but only if the proper state and federal funding comes through.

“Simply put, the ball is in Frankfort’s court,” Davis wrote. “And while replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge is one the commonwealth’s most pressing transportation needs, the General Assembly and the governor have adopted a strategy of delay.”

Davis wrote that the “path forward is unclear” and will be more expensive for taxpayers.

“Delaying the project until after a financial plan is completed in December 2013 could add more tan $150 million to the total cost,” Davis wrote, citing a report by Cincinnati’s WLWT-Channel 5 that said the existing bridge costs taxpayers $8 million a month to maintain until a new one is built.

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