CINCINNATI -- Brent Cooper has believed for years that the Brent Spence Bridge should be replaced.
But after he saw a video made by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, he was convinced the need is urgent.
“I didn’t fully grasp the impact we were going to see five or 10 years down the road until I saw that presentation,” said Cooper, president of C-Forward, an IT company based in Covington. “For me, it changed my sense of urgency.”
The point of the video is to show what would happen to local traffic patterns if a new Brent Spence Bridge does not get built, said Mark Policinski, OKI’s executive director. Proponents argue the $2.7 billion replacement is needed because the bridge carries nearly twice as many vehicles each day as it was designed to handle.
The three-minute video paints a stark picture. Based on OKI traffic forecasts, it predicts the region’s major transportation arteries will slow to a halt by 2040 without a new bridge. You can view the video below or at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9JNFL_CzZE
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For example, OKI predicts that by 2040, it would take 137 minutes to drive the 23 miles from Kings Island to the central business district in downtown Cincinnati. That’s compared to the 37 minutes that OKI says it took to make that drive in 2005.
Getting from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to downtown would take 104 minutes, according to OKI’s projections. That’s compared to the 30 minutes the agency says that 13-mile drive took in 2005.
As bad as all that sounds, though, Covington City Commissioner Steve Frank said he’s not buying it.
Frank scoffed at the video, saying “the Ministry of Truth” made it.
“In terms of choking to death on traffic, please,” said Frank, who is staunchly opposed to the idea of using tolls to help fund a new bridge. “If you want to see traffic, go to Washington, D.C., go to Chicago, go to Atlanta. These towns seem to be doing pretty well, and they’ve got infinitely more traffic than we do.”
But Policinski said the point of the video is to educate people using the best information OKI has.
The agency has staff members who specialize in transportation modeling. They gather data from many sources that’s then examined by a staff demographer who makes predictions about where the region will grow and where new roads are needed, said Robert Koehler, OKI’s deputy executive director.
Those projections are then built into a transportation model, which is tested and re-tested continually to gague its accuracy, said Andrew Rohne, the agency’s transportation modeling manager.
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The agency uses the model to help determine where to funnel federal transportation dollars to various projects.
“If we were to ever damage the integrity of the model, then everything we do at OKI and all the decisions made by all the jurisdictions and all the money spent would all be called into question,” Policinski said.
Still, Frank said he’s more worried about how the proponents want to pay for a new bridge – not how bad traffic will get without one.
“I’m not going to allow my city to be put out of business for the convenience of other people,” he said.