A project to address a bottleneck on a key bridge for freight crossing over the Ohio River between Kentucky and Ohio will receive funding as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in late 2021.

The Brent Spence Bridge, which carries Interstates 71 and 75 over the Ohio River between Covington, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, will receive $1.385 billion. The bridge, according to the Department of Transportation, carries some $400 billion worth of freight each year.

In 2020 the bridge was closed for six weeks in 2020 when two trucks collided and caught fire on it. The bridge was closed from Nov. 11 to Dec. 23 for emergency repairs.

The Brent Spence Bridge project includes the construction of a new companion bridge immediately west of the existing bridge to accommodate interstate through traffic on two bridge decks, and complete reconstruction of eight-mile interstate approach corridors both in Ohio and Kentucky, replacing 54 additional bridges. The project will separate I-75 traffic from local traffic, making commutes quicker and improving freight passage along this critical corridor, according to a statement from the U.S. DOT.

The federal funding was part of the first round of Large Bridge Project Grants from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s competitive Bridge Investment Program. This program includes nearly $40 billion over five years that will help repair or rebuild 10 of the most economically significant bridges in the country along with thousands of bridges across the country, according to the DOT.

The other three major bridge projects announced Wednesday, Jan. 4, include:

  • The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District in California will receive $400 million to replace, retrofit and install critical structural elements on the Golden Gate Bridge to increase resiliency against earthquakes. The Golden Gate Bridge is vital to an estimated 37 million vehicles crossing the bridge per year, including 555,000 freight trucks, as well as waterborne commerce through the Golden Gate Strait connected to the Port of Oakland. 

  • The Connecticut Department of Transportation will receive $158 million to rehabilitate the northbound structure of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, which is part of the Interstate 95 corridor over the Thames River between New London and Groton, Connecticut. The bridge carries five lanes of traffic and 42,600 vehicles per day and is a vital connection on the I-95 corridor for people and goods traveling between New York and New England. The rehabilitation will address structural repairs, increase load capacity and eliminate a load restriction for overweight vehicles. 

  • The City of Chicago will receive $144 million to rehabilitate four bridges over the Calumet River on the Southside of Chicago. The Calumet River connects Lake Michigan with the Lake Calumet Port District which is further connected to the Illinois River providing access to the Gulf of Mexico. Each bridge lifts an average of 5,000 times per year, providing continuous and safe access for marine traffic to and from the port and surrounding industry. Rehabilitating these bridges ensures that communities on either side of the river remain connected and the bridges continue to function to allow barge and ship traffic to traverse to the Illinois International Port and beyond. The project will eliminate a load restriction and truck detours. 

Additional information on Federal Highway Administration’s Bridge Investment Program, including Large Bridge Project Grants and Bridge Planning Grants, can be found at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/bip/.