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KYTC: Brent Spence Bridge repair work 'going according to schedule'

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Posted at 1:57 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 17:18:21-05

COVINGTON, Ky. — Repairs to the Brent Spence Bridge were on track to wrap up in two weeks, Kentucky's transportation secretary announced Wednesday. Construction workers began pouring concrete to repair the bridge on Wednesday, meaning drivers are another step closer to being able to cross the bridge again.

Secretary Jim Gray with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said, "Things are going according to schedule," and credited the crews and "accommodating" weather in the four weeks since the fiery crash that prompted the bridge's abrupt closure.

After investigating the damage to the bridge, Gray estimated repairs could wrap up by Dec. 23.

"I know better than to declare victory prematurely, but I can tell you that things are going well on the project and things are going according to schedule," Gray said.

On Wednesday and Thursday, workers are pouring concrete to create new barrier walls on the lower deck of the bridge and for the driving surface on the upper level. Next week, they expect to repair the concrete on the lower level.

Gray said right now, crews must prepare for another potential roadblock: winter weather.

“The contractor has made provisions if it gets colder -- substantially colder -- they would be able to both provide an accelerator which would encourage accelerating in the curing of the concrete,” said Gray.

The bridge has remained closed to all traffic since Nov. 11, when two semitrailers collided and ignited an intense fire that damaged a portion of the upper deck and some of the bridge's steel beams.

The closure has blocked one of the most important thoroughfares in America, as the Brent Spence Bridge is the only way for drivers on Interstates 71 and 75 to cross over the Ohio River.

The bridge is also notorious for crashes, and it was not built to carry the volume of traffic that crosses it daily.

“To those of us who drive the bridge every day it's no surprise that accidents are increasing on there,” said Chief District Engineer Bob Yeager.

The plan to curb crashes is called a “Texas turnaround,” which allows more time to exit the bridge. Gray said the plan has always been to build a companion bridge that will ease congestion without fully replacing the Brent Spence.

Right now, there is no timeline for constructing that new bridge, and Gray said the team’s focus now is restoring regular traffic on the existing bridge.

“We've been fortunate, too, that we've had good weather, but our plan includes challenges that weather might present to us,” he said.

Find more WCPO 9 News coverage on the Brent Spence Bridge, including detours, traffic and construction updates, at our Brent Spence Bridge tab.