CINCINNATI — A bipartisan group of 10 senators, including Ohio Republican Rob Portman, announced Thursday they had reached a deal on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. They didn’t reveal many specifics, and their plan still needs to pass through both chambers of Congress before it reaches President Joe Biden’s desk.
But for Brent Cooper at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, any news that could hasten the replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge is good news. Every passing day makes the project — one of the most urgent infrastructural problems in the United States — more expensive.
"Transportation costs in general continue to rise,” Cooper said Thursday. “I often compare — the last time the gas tax was raised was 1993. What did a car cost in ’93? What did a candy bar cost in ’93? The costs go up. Delays are expensive, so we need a solution now."
Portman and his fellow senators — four other Republicans and five Democrats — said their deal won’t raise taxes. In a joint statement, the group also wrote they had “worked in good faith” to reach a “realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies.”
Doing that is vital to many aspects of American life, Cooper said, including the ones that people don’t tend to think about until they become a problem.
“It's critical to our business community,” he said of the Brent Spence. “Especially our small businesses that are sitting in traffic, customers sitting in traffic, impacting their business and their quality of life.”
He’s hopeful that the senators’ compromise will have enough momentum to carry it quickly through Congress and earn Biden’s approval.
Regardless, he’s in for the long haul.
“The next battle will be in Frankfort, and then we also have local battles to deal with to finally get to a solution for this,” he said. “We're not going to give up until we see a new Brent Spence Bridge."