CINCINNATI -- Well, we're in the home stretch as the $10 million Brent Spence Bridge maintenance project moved into its third and final phase on Sunday evening.
Officials said the shift was earlier than previously announced due to crews being able to work ahead of schedule.
On both decks, traffic has shifted to the two easternmost lanes; the two westernmost lanes are closed. Drivers should plan ahead and know which lane they need to be in to reach their destinations.
Drivers need to plan ahead and be in the correct lane before getting onto the bridge. That's especially important for anyone using exits in downtown Cincinnati or Covington, Kentucky (click or tap to download larger images):
Motorists aren't the only ones feeling frustrated by the bridge project; business owners have also felt an impact.
Thomas Weatherford, general manager of Covington Coffee, said his business has seen a 40 percent reduction on overall sales.
"We knew there would be challenges. We're trying to branch out and grow the business in other ways,” he said.
But Weatherford is grateful the construction is in its final weeks; the project is expected to be finished just before school starts.
"For coffee shops, that's a good thing,” he said. “The beginning of school year marks the beginning of fall. Kids, parents down in the area that aren't normally down here."
DJ Pritchard, a regular at Covington Coffee, said the lack of customers at his favorite coffee shop is “saddening.”
“I love coming down here, being in the Covington and Newport area, but all of the sudden I have to go out of my way to come down here because I don't want to sit in traffic coming down the hill in the 'Cut in the Hill,’” he said.
Weatherford is looking forward to the coming weeks.
"I think the bridge itself being open, it's going to have an influx of people wanting to use it again and to get back to normal,” he said. “I think it'll drive a lot of foot traffic down here from folks outside the area."
Four ramps will remain closed for the entirety of the project:
To I-71/I-75 southbound from Fort Washington Way (Cincinnati)
To I-71/I-75 southbound from Third Street (Cincinnati)
Fourth Street ramp to I-71/I-75 north (Covington)
Exit ramp from I-71/I-75 southbound to Erlanger/KY 236, exit 184 (Erlanger)
The 60-day maintenance project includes concrete resurfacing, repairs to some of the steel work, and upgrades to the drainage and lighting systems. Funding comes from Ohio and Kentucky. Crews haven't done this kind of work since the late 1990s, officials said.