Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Ohio Governor John Kasich have signed an agreement on how their two states will work cooperatively to build a new bridge over the Ohio River.
The new bridge would be in addition to the existing Brent Spence Bridge.
While the exact structure type is still to be determined, the selected roadway alternative for the long-awaited bridge is a two-deck span that would carry all of Interstate 75, plus southbound lanes of I-71 and three southbound lanes of local traffic.
It would be adjacent to, and greatly reduce the load now being shouldered by the Brent Spence Bridge.
Kasich said the only way to build the bridge is by charging a toll.
" We're tolling for the purposes of just building the bridge. That's what we want to do. We want to build it. It is an essential part, we believe, of being able to get this done."
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said tolls are the only way a project of this size can be built.
"There is not a region in the country that's building a bridge that does not have multiple sources of funding, including tolling."
However, Garth Kuhnhein with the Northern Kentucky Tea Party says he's opposed to tolls.
" A toll is a tax. Its no other way around it. We pay a tax on our gasoline and our diesel fuel and now we're going to be asked to pay another tax, and for the people that work over in Cincinnati or the people in Cincinnati who work in Northern Kentucky, that's probably going to be $1,300 a year they're going to have to pay."
"Working together, our two states have made excellent progress toward a long-awaited solution for the commercial and commuter bottleneck that the Brent Spence Bridge has become," said Gov. Beshear. "Gov. Kasich and I both recognize, and are in full agreement, that a second bridge is an absolute necessity. This agreement reflects our resolve to see it become reality."
"The businesses and citizens that use the bridge every day need relief from gridlock today- not 30 years from now," said Gov. Kasich. "I look forward to working closely with Gov. Beshear to make a real change and deliver the Brent Spence Bridge quickly."
The two-deck Brent Spence, which opened on November 25th, 1963, carries the entire load of both I-71 and I-75 and two-way local traffic. Though structurally sound, it is classified as "functionally obsolete" because of its narrow lanes, absence of emergency shoulders and limited visibility on its lower deck.
Under the selected alternative design, the Brent Spence would undergo renovation and remain in service to carry two northbound lanes of I-71 on its upper deck and three lanes of northbound local traffic on its lower deck.
The Memorandum of Agreement signed by Governors Beshear and Kasich outlines remaining duties and responsibilities of each state.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also attended Wednesday's announcement.
In addition, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown has showed his support.
"The Brent Spence Bridge carries millions of dollars of our nation's goods across the Ohio-Kentucky state line every day," Brown said. "That's why it's so important that both state and federal leaders work together to ensure this bridge renovation moves forward. When companies decide where to locate, expand, and invest, water, transportation and energy infrastructure are critical factors in the decision. We must do everything we can to make cities like Cincinnati and Covington ideal cites for investment."
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