COVINGTON, Ky. — Wednesday marked one week until officials with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet expect the Brent Spence Bridge to reopen to vehicle traffic.
"I'm here to report that we are still on schedule for reopening the Brent Spence Bridge next week," said KYTC Sec. Jim Gray during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "The original schedule called for reopening on Dec. 23, and we are still on that schedule."
Repair work began last month shortly after two semitrailers crashed on the bridge's northbound lower deck, igniting an intense chemical fire that damaged a portion of the southbound upper deck, prompting the bridge's closure on Nov. 11.
The bridge is a major commuter and freight corridor, carrying Interstates 71 and 75 across the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky.
The repair work included completely replacing the concrete decking on a 200-foot stretch of the bridge's upper deck, replacing several steel beams supporting that decking, and repairing the roadway and concrete guardrails on the lower deck.
When the bridge reopens, however, it won't completely reopen to full traffic levels all at once, said KYTC District 6 Chief Engineer Bob Yeager.
"First thing we want to do is we want to make sure we do it safely, and the second thing we want to do is do it as soon as we possibly can" Yeager said.
Yeager said this process will involve taking down roughly eight miles of traffic control barriers at highway on- and off-ramps between the bridge and Interstate 275.
"Once we get the OK that everything is out of the way... we plan to open it up one lane at a time, which is how we do every operation," Yeager said. "We'll start at the beginning of the closure and work our way back until everything is gone.
"We don't want to do the checkered flag kind of thing to get everybody going through at the same time."
Yeager didn't speculate specifically about what time of day the bridge and adjacent expressway would reopen, but he said "ideally" it would not happen during peak traffic hours during the morning and evening rush hours.
Watch KYTC Sec. Jim Gray's full update here: