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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What work is taking place on the Brent Spence Bridge?


Beginning March 1, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is managing a routine maintenance project to clean and paint the Brent Spence Bridge. The project, which is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 15, 2021, will require various lane closures on the bridge, as well as the closure of several ramps that provide access to the bridge. In addition to cleaning and painting, crews will complete other routine maintenance tasks, including drainage work, signage repairs, and replacing the interstate emblems on the roadway surface.




Why is it important for this work to take place?


This is a routine project that is part of the normal lifecycle of a major structure like the Brent Spence Bridge. Just as you have to perform regular maintenance on your personal property like your car and your home so it stays in good working order, regular maintenance has to be performed on public infrastructure to ensure it remains safe for long-term use.




Is the Brent Spence Bridge going to be replaced?


No. The Brent Spence Bridge is a major thoroughfare for both local and national traffic, connecting two states that are critical to the movement of people, goods, and services. The bridge carries I-71 and I-75 traffic over the Ohio River and has four lanes of travel on each of the upper and lower decks. The bridge was designed to carry 80-100,000 vehicles per day; it currently carries twice that volume. The bridge is routinely inspected and is structurally sound. It cannot efficiently support the existing level of traffic without increasing travel times. Current plans call for a companion bridge to the west of the existing structure, but no funding for construction of a new structure has been secured.




Why couldn’t this work be done last year when the bridge was completely shut down for an emergency repair?


There are multiple reasons why the bridge couldn't have been painted during the emergency repair project in late 2020, including: 1. Weather during the time of the emergency repair – both temperature and conditions weren't conducive to the maintenance work currently being performed. 2. The goal of the emergency repair was to reopen the bridge as quickly and safely as possible. Crews were able to reopen the bridge in six weeks. The anticipated timing for the maintenance project is approximately nine months. 3. The scope of work for the emergency contract was put into place to inspect the bridge and perform the repairs necessary to bring the bridge back into full service. The emergency repair was an entirely different scope of work and an entirely different set of specialists needed to complete the project.




How often does this type of work need to be done to ensure the bridge stays in good condition?


The bridge was first painted when it was opened in 1963 and was painted again in 1991. The average life expectancy of a paint job of this nature is about 20 years. KYTC was able to extend that life cycle by performing routine upkeep, but now is the time for a more comprehensive cleaning and painting of the entire structure. Typically, a maintenance project of this size and scope would have significant impacts over at least two construction seasons. Recognizing the important connection the Brent Spence Bridge provides for many who travel to and through the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, KYTC structured the contract with North Star Painting Company to ensure this maintenance work is completed as efficiently as possible. Working in two of the four lanes on both decks will allow reduced traffic to be maintained on the bridge as maintenance work progresses and the full movement of traffic to be restored as quickly as possible.




Why does this work have to be done now – while the Roebling is also closed?


It is inconvenient to have traffic impacts on two different crossings of the Ohio River at the same time, but work on both structures is being completed as quickly and safely as possible. Work on the Brent Spence Bridge was delayed while work on the Combs-Hehl Bridge was taking place but could not be delayed any longer. The restoration project taking place on the Roebling is an emergency repair for an aging and historic structure and as such, was not able to be planned in advance of the emergency.




How much will the routine maintenance project cost?


North Star Painting Company, an Ohio-based company, was awarded the contract as the low bidder at $35.8 million. The majority of the cost is in specialized equipment and personnel required to clean and paint the main span, as well as the Kentucky and Ohio approaches to the bridge. In addition, to maintain traffic across the bridge throughout the project, crews must also work carefully to keep debris out of the water and the roadway.




Will water traffic on the river be impacted by this work?


The Ohio River will be open to traffic at all times during the project. A containment system is in place to ensure that debris does not fall into the river throughout the course of the project.




Will a truck ban be put in place during this project?


Trucks are encouraged to use I-275 or I-471 to travel around the bridge rather than across it, which will help reduce traffic volume while work is happening and various lane closures are in place on the bridge.