Brent Spence Bridge proposal causes a headache for Covington

COVINGTON, Ky. - For millions of Tri-State drivers, a new plan for the Brent Spence Bridge is hard to imagine.

If you're driving from Cincinnati to Covington, you'd have to exit at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

If you change your mind, you'll have to drive all the way down I-71/75, turn around at the Kyles Lane Exit in Fort Wright, and drive back to Covington.

The proposal calls for no exit at Covington.

That's why the city of Covington, along with residents and business owners, is fighting the proposal.

Randy Gearing has owned Riverfront Pizza, located at the foot of the Brent Spence Bridge, for 30 years.

He knows from experience that the state's preferred plan, as is, would collapse his business. Gearing faced a similar issue when he owned Skyline Chili on West Third Street.

"When we had Skyline, I'd say maybe 20 years ago, they shut down the lanes going on the bridge and coming off the bridge. I think they widened the road four feet. Back then, it really hurt big time. It really just cut us down, just tremendously."

That's why he's voicing his opinion Wednesday night at a meeting at Covington City Hall.

Assistant City Engineer Mike Yeager is heading the meeting. He says not only is the proposal, called 'Alternative I', complicated for drivers, but it will alter the future of Covington.

"People that become familiar with it, or local, they'll learn how to do that pretty quickly. But we're concerned that the people that are passing through, once they cross the bridge and maybe see something interesting in Covington they'd like to get off and visit a restaurant or an establishment, they won't have the opportunity to get off into Covington," explained Yeager.

City leaders want the federal government to tweak 'Alternative I'.

"I understand it's a difficult job. But we here in Covington have to protect our interests and create an environment that will help our businesses prosper, and we have to keep that direct access route off of I-75," said Pat Frew with the Covington Business Council.

Gearding says he hopes residents will join him in fighting 'Alternative I', so his business can survive.

"At least, if anything, it will make people more aware of what's going on," said Gearding.

'Alternative I' isn't the final plan for the bridge, just a preferred option for local transportation officials.

Covington held a public meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chamber

State officials will hold public meetings April 24 in Cincinnati, and April 25 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center from 5-8 p.m.

A final decision on a plan will be made after those public meetings.

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