The Roebling isn't the only Tri-State bridge getting a makeover in 2021. The Brent Spence Bridge also will get a cleaning and a new coat of paint this year.
And in the meantime, commuters who thought of diverting to the Brent Spence while the Roebling remains closed for restorations until November might want to reconsider. The Brent Spence project will mean traffic headaches there, too.
Lane closures for the restoration are scheduled to begin Monday at 8 p.m.
Here's the plan for Monday, weather permitting:— Brent Spence Bridge Info (@brentspenceinfo) February 26, 2021
‼️ At 8P, the 2 westernmost lanes of I-71/75 northbound across the BSB will be closed. This pattern will remain in place for Phase 1 of the maintenance project. The 2 easternmost lanes will remain open.
"Me, personally, I work up in Mason, so I'm trying to get across the bridge pretty frequently," Covington resident Cole Tilden said.
He's one of thousands who rely on the Brent Spence Bridge to get to work every day.
"It's probably going to be really a lot of backup traffic, considering it's just going to be a silo into all these back roads," Tilden said.
Beginning March 1, two lanes in the northbound direction of the four-lane, double-decker bridge will close while crews begin cleaning and repainting the 58-year-old Brent Spence. The on-ramp from Fourth Street in Covington to I-71/75 northbound will also close Monday evening as part of phase one. More lane and ramp closures will follow as the project continues. KYTC expects the project to wrap up by Nov. 15.
"It's a gut punch to the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati region," said Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Brent Cooper.
He said the area is already reeling from the economic toll of the pandemic and the complete closure of the bridge following a fiery semi crash in November 2020. Cooper said this work, while necessary, couldn't happen at a more difficult time.
"When you think of our top growth areas -- advanced manufacturing, logistics and distribution, healthcare -- they're all impacted by this bridge being limited in capacity," he said.
The Chamber said they believe an investment has to be made in a new bridge -- and soon -- to bring a more permanent solution to a recurring problem.
"At some point, we've got to pull off the Band-Aid," Cooper said. "I think we all realize that, but in the moment it's going to be tough."
In addition to the lane closures, key ramps will close for the duration of the project, as well:
- Ramp to Interstate 71 South from Third Street will close
- Ramp to Interstate 71 South from Fort Washington Way will close
- Ramp to Interstate 71/75 North from Fourth Street will close
The upside: The Brent Spence won't close completely, as it did for six weeks following a serious crash involving two semitrailers just a few months ago, or as the Roebling did earlier this week.
The downside: This time the disruption on the Brent Spence won't be weeks-long, but will be months-long -- like the Roebling project -- lasting into November.
Officials with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recommend that commuters plan their trips and use alternate routes to get around the bridge when possible.