Local leaders are urging a renewed push to find funding for a replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge, recently ranked the second-worst traffic bottleneck in the entire United States.
“It has been talked about for decades, a replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge. Now the wheels are turning at the national, state, and local levels to get something done," according to a video released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president Brent Cooper said his plan is for legislators to pass a national infrastructure bill by July 4.
“We’re desperate to get people to talk about this again and finally find a way to get it done," Cooper said.
That includes voices in Washington D.C., including Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who sat down with WCPO for a segment on This Week in Cincinnati.
His solution: “Penny plan for infrastructure. Telling every other department of government, ‘you have to cut 1% of waste.' We’ll take that 1% of waste and put it into an infrastructure fund.”
Cooper said the problem is funding.
“We have more vehicles driving and less money to pay for the roads and bridges they drive on,” he said. “That’s a recipe for disaster."
A House bill introduced by Northern Kentucky Rep. Sal Santoro talks about a 10 cent-per-gallon gas tax increase and fees on electric vehicles, which would add up to about $150 a year for every driver.
“That’s true, but here's the thing, we’re already paying more than $400 a year in maintenance, in fuel wasted sitting in traffic," Cooper said. "We’re paying for this one way or the other. We think it’s more important to be proactive. Fix problems before they become disasters.”
Locally, he hopes to raise a grassroots movement to pound the pavement – encouraging others to call representatives and legislators.
"I feel like Charlie Brown and the Brent Spence Bridge these days. Every time we think we're close, Lucy pulls the ball out from under us,” Cooper said. “I don't know how likely it is. I know we won't get it done unless we talk about it, and engage at all levels."