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Infrastructure Future plans for 60-y.o. decaying Brent Spence bridge linking Ohio & Kentucky?

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The Washington Post - 11/17/2020:

The crumbling bridge that two presidents couldn’t fix faces an uncertain future


In recent years, chunks of crumbling concrete have rained down from the double-deck bridge, which was declared functionally obsolete by the Federal Highway Administration in 1998.
The cost to replace [the bridge] is an estimated $2.5 billion, roughly the equivalent of Kentucky’s entire transportation budget for the year. The two states have wrestled over whether tolls should be used to pay for a replacement, a stance that has proved unpopular.
Rachel Roberts, a state legislator and Democrat representing a northern Kentucky district, says a federal appropriation is needed, but she agrees that states need to lead the way in solving the problem. . .
“Look, Mitch McConnell’s wife is Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary, and they can’t get the new bridge built,” Roberts says. “So any solution is going to have come from the states.”



Kentucky.com op-ed -11/19/2020 :

If Mitch McConnell is so powerful, where’s the new Brent Spence bridge?

A fiery truck accident on Nov. 11 has closed the Brent Spence until Dec. 23. All 160,000 vehicles which use this bridge daily have been forced to find other routes through and around Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati [OH].
The economic impact of the current Brent Spence closure must be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and replacement of the bridge is unquestionably our most important regional transportation issue.
Truckers News has described the bridge as:
“functionally obsolete,” carrying over twice the number of vehicles it was designed to carry when it was built in 1963. It carries traffic not just from I-75 and I-71, but also southbound I-74 from Indianapolis. Three interstates on one bridge! Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has called this bottleneck “one of the busiest freight corridors in the nation.”
 
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Dan

Dear Leader
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From the article. Emphasis mine.

But the bridge was never fixed. The cost to replace it is an estimated $2.5 billion, roughly the equivalent of Kentucky’s entire transportation budget for the year.

I know the cost of infrastructure is rising higher than inflation, and cost of materials has skyrocketed due to COVID-19, but $2,500,000,000 for a bridge across the Ohio River seems ridiculous.

In 2003, the estimated cost to replace the Peace Bridge, which crosses the Niagara River to connect Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontario, with a six-lane "signature span" suspension bridge, was 2020US$325,000,000.

In 2013, the estimate for the Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge project for I-90 across the Cuyahoga River was 2020US$726,000,000.
 

Hink

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So we modified a portion of a bridge to add sidewalk and the cost was around $1.3 million. I completely get the number, even though it is insane.

With that said, it isn't going to get cheaper anytime soon. With all of these investments, you either buckle up and make the investment, or you wait and pay more in the future.

The cost is painfully large... but it is necessary and overdue.
 

Gedunker

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$2.5 billion? So, one less new battleship for our Navy? I'm ok with that.
[PEDANTIC]The US Navy hasn't launched a new battleship since 1944.[/PEDANTIC]

+++
We just built two (2) new bridges across the Ohio River, together with approaches, yadda, yadda, for $2.32bn. I think I've been across one fewer than a dozen times, and the other perhaps twice. We are disinclined in this part of the world to pay for northern Kentucky's new bridge: they didn't help us with ours.
 

CyberPower

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'Functionally obsolete' is highway engineer for 'not as wide as we want it to be'. Although it sounds like it is increasingly 'structurally deficient' as well. Hmm. Maybe they shouldn't have put 8 lanes of traffic on a bridge designed for 6? Or maybe they haven't bothered to maintain it? Or maybe that they prioritized safety over capacity, and now the entire time-savings of decades of doing so are now going to be wiped out through a month-long total shutdown of the bridge?

'Entire budget' just means 1/30th of the budget for 30(ish) years, after bonding. Construction started in 1960 on the original bridge, so they've had 60 years of use. And it carries 3 Interstates, so I'd assume the Feds will pony up 80-90% of the cost. What will take the hit is Kentucky's ability to spend that much budget elsewhere. But heck, maybe it will get an earmark. (I hear those are coming back).
 
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From the article. Emphasis mine. But the bridge was never fixed. The cost to replace it is an estimated $2.5 billion, roughly the equivalent of Kentucky’s entire transportation budget for the year.

I know the cost of infrastructure is rising higher than inflation, and cost of materials has skyrocketed due to COVID-19, but $2,500,000,000 for a bridge across the Ohio River seems ridiculous.

In 2003, the estimated cost to replace the Peace Bridge, which crosses the Niagara River to connect Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontario, with a six-lane "signature span" suspension bridge, was 2020US$325,000,000.

In 2013, the estimate for the Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge project for I-90 across the Cuyahoga River was 2020US$726,000,000.

Dan- I'm just guessing from left field, but is it possible that:
  • Replacing the Brent Spence costs so much in 2020 because of the import tariffs that the U.S. gov has put on Chinese building materials, such as steel?
  • If the Biden administration removes those specific tariffs, the cost of building the bridge will go down?
___________________________________________________________________________________

Some news just came out that further complicates the issue of who pays for the bridge repairs:
"Brent Spence Bridge crash reveals little-known Kentucky ban on hazmat shipments"

The fire that closed northern Kentucky’s Brent Spence Bridge started after two tractor trailers collided early on November 11. Officials have said the fire “burned intensely” in part because a truck that struck a jack-knifed semi was carrying potassium hydroxide. . . . That chemical is considered a hazardous material, according to federal rules that govern potentially flammable and caustic cargo.
In 2013, federal documents show, Kentucky designated Interstate 75 north of I-275 as a route where shipments of all hazardous materials are forbidden. That stretch of I-75 includes the lower section of the double-decked Brent Spence Bridge...
Transportation Cabinet officials acknowledged that there are no signs in Kentucky notifying drivers carrying hazardous cargo of the restrictions, saying that individual drivers and companies are responsible for knowing the regulations.
 
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12/02/2020

Covington mayor on hazmat trucks using Brent Spence: 'Why run that risk again?'​

Snippet:
For [Covington Mayor Joe] Meyer, the fact that the truck involved in the Nov. 11 crash was within the legal limit of hazardous cargo crossing the bridge makes an even stronger case for reexamining the regulations.
 
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The repaired Brent Spence Bridge is scheduled to open under-budget and on time,
this Wed, Dec 23.


An increasing number of officials and the public are beginning to ask and seek answers to the question:
What's being done to keep another major closure of the Brent Spence from happening?

__________________________________________________________________
December 17, 2020 (Thursday)

Covington commissioners: Enforce the hazmat ban on I-71/75, Brent Spence Bridge

The Covington, KY Board of Commissioners passed a resolution earlier this week calling for more signage indicating the hazmat restrictions and for more enforcement. A city staff member wrote: "The ban, approved by both federal and state highway officials, appears to be neither widely known nor routinely followed."
"[E]ach day that the ban on transporting hazardous materials north of the Interstate 275 interchange (at Interstate 71/75) is not enforced creates a heightened risk to the citizens of Covington," the resolution reads.
Ohio Trucking Association president and CEO Tom Balzer confirmed there is confusion among the freight industry over the law: "(Drivers) do get conflicting reports, and these things do change with a lot of frequency. . . I think there was a lot of people that didn't know that the northbound traffic was not allowed for hazmat until people started digging into it."
Existing signage for northbound traffic appears to be confusing:
One sign on the northbound side alerts truck drivers to avoid Lytle Tunnel -- another hazmat-restricted area -- on Interstate 71 in Ohio and advises taking Interstate 75 when the two highways split just north of the Brent Spence. . . . This is "in apparent violation of the ban," the news release stated.
 
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