CINCINNATI — A new companion bridge to help the Brent Spence Bridge won’t just improve rush hour traffic, it could lead to a boom of new business and jobs in the region.
“This bridge does not just connect Kentucky to Ohio, it connects this region to the world,” said Mark Policinski, CEO of Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments.
The Brent Space is one of the most congested truck points in the nation carrying 160,000 vehicles a day – which is twice the capacity it was designed to hold when it was built decades ago.
“Why in the world are companies going to come here, locate here or expand when they face that kind of delay,” Policinski said.
If Ohio and Kentucky win $2 billion in federal funding to build a companion bridge, as was outlined in a plan jointly proposed by Governors Mike DeWine and Andy Beshear Monday, it could be a game-changer for the region’s economy.
“$1 billion of freight moves across that bridge, every day. And that’s our link to the world of commerce. That’s our link to bring in companies here, having them stay here and having them grow here,” Policinski said.
E-commerce giant Amazon is already luring new business here with the opening of its $1.5 billion air hub at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in 2021.
But recent job and population growth is making the bridge bottleneck worse, which could make new businesses think twice before relocating here, said Jared Kamrass, a Democratic strategist and principal at Technicolor Political.
“Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty in the world and folks don’t want to invest their jobs or their resources where there is uncertainty,” Kamrass said. “Right now, the number one source of uncertainty in our region is the Brent Spence.”
That’s because truckers can’t predict how much traffic will be on the bridge and how long it will take to cross it, slowing down one of the nation’s most crucial supply chain routes.
“Look at the scale of the nation’s freight traffic that goes through that corridor, it’s huge,” Kamrass said. “I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that some folks look at avoiding that corridor now … bringing jobs elsewhere or taking freight elsewhere and avoiding Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.”
Governors DeWine and Beshear signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to jointly apply for federal infrastructure money that would relieve these major traffic issues.
"The need for a Brent Spence companion bridge has been obvious for years. The NKY Metro is the fastest growing Metro region in Kentucky, and a critical part of the Greater Cincy region. Getting rid of this economic chokepoint will make a dramatic positive difference in our quality of life and our ability to do commerce," said Brent Cooper, President and CEO, of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Of the 1 million jobs in the region, 70 percent are within five miles of the the 1-71/75 corridor in which the Brent Spence Bridge is the linchpin, Policinski said.
“Having a seamless reliable connection between Northern Kentucky and Ohio, between the airport and the jobs and employers on the Ohio side, will be crucial in encouraging folks to create jobs, to invest in our region. And it’s the number one thing we can do right now to spur future growth,” Kamrass said.
Beshear, DeWine announce $2.8B plan for I-71/75 corridor including new bridge