Cincinnati’s Brent Spence Bridge is the second most congested truck bottleneck in the United States, according to a new ranking released this week by the American Transportation Research Institute.
The list measures truck congestion at more than 300 spots across the country, using GPS data from more than 1 million freight trucks.
The No. 1 congested spot, for the third year in a row, is the intersection of Interstate 95 and State Route 4 in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
The Brent Spence Bridge was No. 5 in 2020 before jumping up three spots this year.
“This report comes as no shock to those who use it because the Brent Spence Bridge is chronically congested and horrendously unsafe,” said Mark Policinski, Chief Executive Officer of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, in a news release about the list. “And, the report shows the situation isn’t getting any better.
“In a few short years, we’ve seen the bridge significantly worsen in terms of safely and efficiently transporting freight and families.”
Other Ohio and Kentucky spots on the congestion list:
- No. 24: Interstate 75/71 at the intersection with Interstate 275 in Northern Kentucky;
- No. 67: Interstate 71 at Interstate 70 in Columbus;
- No. 81: Interstate 75 at Interstate 74 in Cincinnati.
The congestion list was released on Wednesday, followed on Thursday morning by a group of national, state and local chamber of commerce officials making a renewed pitch to secure federal funding to build a new Brent Spence Bridge.
The group is releasing a new ad that calls on Congress to pass a comprehensive infrastructure bill by July 4 that includes funding for the Brent Spence Bridge.
“We know that federal investment is the only way that we will get this bridge done,” said Jill Meyer, President and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
The Brent Spence is by far the heaviest traveled bridge between downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, getting more than 163,000 vehicles a day, according to a 2019 count from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
And that heavy traffic is really the crux of the problem, since the bridge’s original design was meant to accommodate only 80,000 vehicles per day. Because of that, the bridge has been labeled “functionally obsolete” since the 1990s.
A new Brent Spence Bridge – which would actually be a companion bridge, sitting side-by-side with the original – is expected to cost around $2.5 billion. Ohio legislators have said they’d be fine with using tolls to pay for the local share, but Northern Kentucky leaders have balked at that idea.
A recent crash that shut down the bridge for six weeks brought renewed interest to the idea of a new bridge but not much in the way of solutions to pay for it.
The chamber officials on Thursday said that local and state-level conversations about paying for the project have to be in tandem with requests for federal money. One solution might be for Kentucky legislators to repeal a prohibition on using tolls for the project.