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Designers refine approaches to Brent Spence Bridge companion project

A design schematic shows new highway and road alignments on the Cincinnati approach to the Brent Spence Bridge and companion bridge project.
Ohio Department of Transportation/Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
A design schematic shows new highway and road alignments on the Cincinnati approach to the Brent Spence Bridge and companion bridge project.

The approaches to the Brent Spence Bridge companion will have a smaller footprint in Cincinnati, and won't be as tall in Covington. Transportation officials from both states on Friday announced four refinements in Ohio and three in Kentucky. The Ohio Department of Transportation's Tommy Arnold says the new design will free up 11 acres currently occupied by highway.

“We’ve been able to extend the street grid, so extend that street-grid feel of Downtown, extend that across 75, and tie into the Queensgate area,” Arnold says. “Extending the street grid means we have more intersections on the west side and the east side — that local street feel. That also includes additional bike and pedestrian facilities.”

Other refinements in Cincinnati include reconfiguring the southbound I-75 approach to the bridge, combining 2nd and 3rd street connections, and shrinking the footprint of U.S. 50.

RELATED: Groundbreaking for Brent Spence Bridge project could come soon

In Kentucky, the new design includes lowering the highway in Covington. “If you’re in Goebel Park, during the base design, if you’re looking back over toward the Crescent Avenue area, you are seeing multiple layers of the roadway,” says Stacee Hans with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “We’ve been able to lower that, put some of that back at grade, and then lower that whole configuration by approximately 30 feet.”

Hans says the new design will also shift on-ramps closer to Pike Street, and shift the highway alignment through the Cut-in-the-Hill to the east, reducing the need to carve more of the rockface.

The changes come in part from public comment, Hans says. “The two innovations that we talked about specific to the Covington area was a direct result of public comment,” she says. “And it goes back to the agencies, both ODOT and KYTC’s commitment to be good stewards and good neighbors.”

RELATED: Advocates call for a rethink of Brent Spence Bridge Corridor design

A group of advocates have presented other options for the highway design, saying their plan would free up as many as 30 acres in Cincinnati for development.

Bridge Forward Communications Director Josh Junker says they're pleased with some of these changes. “It does show they’ve done, I’d say, at least a good faith effort, in at least evaluating our design, and looking at what they can do constructability, seeing how they can narrow the footprint and everything," he says. "We’re looking forward to more project changes. We still think there are still some opportunities with incremental design changes that could get us a little closer to what we’re asking for too.”

Arnold says there could be more tweaks to come, but they would be measured in feet, not acres.

He says the changes shouldn't add cost or extend the timeline for the project’s construction.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.