One month into Brent Spence construction, officials say project is 'on schedule'

One month into Brent Spence construction, officials say project is 'on schedule'
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jul 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-26 06:00:00-04

COVINGTON, Ky. -- The Brent Spence Bridge doesn't exactly have a reputation for being smooth or hassle-free, but that's the sentiment among project leaders and law enforcement when assessing their progress moving through a summer-long construction project on the busy span.

Monday marked the beginning of the project's second of three phases, according to project spokesperson, Betty Hull. 

"With the completion of Phase One over the weekend, we're on time and on schedule," Hull said. "Phase Two is expected to move a little faster than the first phase."

Hull and her team got out early, in the weeks before work began on June 23, with a campaign to make sure drivers were aware of the construction work and to anticipate extra delays through the already heavily congested corridor.

As the project got underway, though, Hull said the backups haven't grown as much as initially thought.

"Because of drivers choosing alternate routes, I think, we haven't seen any measurable, additional increase in traffic congestion," Hull said.

That's not to mean the corridor, which carries nearly 200,000 vehicles each day, is congestion-free. It just hasn't gotten much worse, Hull said.

"Traffic is still very heavy during the morning and evening commute times," she said. "We've seen an uptick on some of the alternative routes, as well."

Covington Police Col. Brian Steffen also said he's pleased with how drivers in the area have been handling the construction.

READ MORE: 9 things to know about Brent Spence construction

"Our citizens and visitors are dealing with it," Steffen said. "Everybody's being patient and exhibiting more tolerance than before. There's really nothing they can do about it, so they deal with it."

Steffen said his department hasn't needed to adjust its traffic enforcement much since the project began. "We haven't seen any increase in reckless or careless driving," he told WCPO.

Referring to interstate traffic enforcement, specifically around the perpetually troublesome Cut-in-the-Hill, Steffen said, "We haven't increased enforcement because that might actually make it worse. Police presence, pulling people over -- that can slow traffic. The slower traffic actually means drivers are usually driving safer."

When first announced, officials said the project would take approximately 60 days, although Hull couldn't identify a specific target date for the third phase to conclude. Even after phase three is complete, that won't be the last of the bridge work.

"Even once we get through this initial (traffic) impact, there will still be work done during non-peak hours for another couple of months," she said.

Phase Two might have the biggest impact on drivers, though, as the center two lanes' closing means motorists won't be able to change lanes once on the bridge:

Lane closures and exits on upper deck (southbound)

Lane closures and exits on lower deck (northbound)

Phase Three will then close the western-most lanes -- that is, the two right lanes on the southbound, upper deck and the two left lanes on the northbound, lower deck.

Pat LaFleur reports on transportation and mobility for WCPO. Connect with him on Twitter (@pat_laFleur).