Portman Op-Ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer: A Path Forward for the Brent Spence Bridge

September 13, 2021 | Portman Difference

In a new op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Senator Portman discusses how his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a historic investment in repairing and upgrading our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, would help the long-awaited effort to address the Brent Spence Bridge.

The Brent Spence Bridge, which crosses the Ohio River to connect Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, is heavily trafficked and plays a key role in national commerce, with three percent of America’s economic activity crossing over it every year. The bridge, which was built in 1963 to handle 80,000 vehicles a day, is now used by double that amount – 160,000 vehicles a day. With no shoulder and heavy traffic, the bridge is considered a safety risk as well.

As Portman details, the unprecedented resources in this $542 billion infrastructure agreement will provide new federal funding and certainty for state and local partners to help move this critical project forward. In total, it has $33.5 billion in available funding that could be directed towards the Brent Spence Bridge, including $12.5 billion from Senator Portman’s bipartisan Bridge Investment Act. While state and local funding is still necessary to fully fund the project, this investment moves us significantly closer to a long-term solution to the Brent Spence Bridge than ever before.

Excerpts of the op-ed can be found below and the full op-ed can be found here.

A Path Forward for the Brent Spence Bridge
By U.S. Senator Rob Portman
Cincinnati Enquirer

For decades, people have called for action to address the Brent Spence Bridge. More than 160,000 vehicles cross the Brent Spence Bridge every day, even though the bridge was only intended to handle half of that number. As any commuter or trucker knows who gets stuck in the daily rush hour traffic jams, it is a bottleneck where I-71 and I-75 come together. Any accident or breakdown on the bridge, which now lacks shoulders due to the necessary addition of more lanes, can have a devastating impact. Just last fall, we saw a two-truck accident shut down the bridge for nearly two months.

Fortunately, there has recently been a major breakthrough at the federal level that provides a path forward on Brent Spence. Last month, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, a landmark $542 billion investment in repairing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. I was proud to help negotiate this historic legislation, and pleased it received significant bipartisan support, including the critical backing of Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s senior senator and a proponent of fixing the Brent Spence Bridge. The key now is to get this bill passed in the House of Representatives and signed into law.

This legislation includes billions of dollars in available grant funding across multiple programs for which the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project could apply. Most importantly, the bill provides $12.5 billion in a new federal program to repair old and outdated bridges like Brent Spence that are regionally significant based on legislation I introduced called the Bridge Investment Act. In total, our legislation contains $33.5 billion in available funding that could be directed towards the Brent Spence Bridge.

The next step forward is for the House of Representatives to pass this bill when it reconvenes later this month and President Biden to sign it into law. Then we can get to work. With federal, state and local officials working together, I believe we can fix this long-running traffic headache once and for all.