Two events just days apart have brought renewed attention to the two most important bridge projects in Kentucky: The replacement of the Sherman Minton Bridge across the Ohio River on Interstate 64 in Louisville, and the Brent Spence Bridge across the Ohio River on Interstate 71/75, linking Cincinnati and Covington.
After years of discussion and little action, there is real hope that the two projects — each expected to cost more than $1.5 billion — can actually be built within the next decade or so.
The two projects are important to the economy of all of Kentucky, not just in the two metropolitan areas where they are located. Interstate 64 is the most important east-west highway in Kentucky while Interstate 75 is a critical north-south highway in Kentucky, with Interstate 71 linking the metropolitan areas of Cincinnati and Louisville, and I-75 and I-65, the state’s other important north-south highway.
Simply put, the two bridges serve as gateways to Kentucky and both spans need to be replaced. Much of the commerce that travels through this state depends on the bridges.
President Barack Obama specifically pointed to the Brent Spence Bridge as one of the construction projects that would be funded by his proposed jobs bill, and because the bridge links the congressional district served by Speaker of the House John Boehner and the home state of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Obama came to Cincinnati to specifically encourage two of the most influential Republicans in Congress to fund the bridge’s replacement. …
While Obama was in Cincinnati, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer met with the president to urge his help in replacing the Sherman Minton Bridge. That project — one of three bridges being planned for Louisville — became a lot more important when Indiana highway engineers closed the bridge to traffic after inspectors found large cracks in its steel frame. The closing has caused major traffic problems in Louisville during the morning and late afternoon rush hours.
While we would like to believe the recent emphasis on the bridges would speed construction on both projects, we are not naive. The emphasis in Washington now is on the 2012 presidential election, not on replacing bridges in Cincinnati, Louisville or anywhere else for that matter. …
Frankly, we are more than a little disgusted with our leaders in Washington. All of them. Both Republicans and Democrats.
— The Independent, Ashland, Ky.