The estimated cost of the new bridge between Ohio and Kentucky is US$2.3bn in current-year dollars and US$2.6bn in future dollars, on the assumption that the bridge would open to traffic in 2024.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet commissioned the Brent Spence Strategic Corridor Study, which was led by Stantec with support from Aecom and other consulting firms. The study has analysed multiple options to relieve congestion and improve cross-river mobility in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region.

The double-deck Brent Spence Bridge, which was designed to carry 80,000 vehicles per day, currently carries more than twice that volume. The study has concluded that a second bridge is needed to improve safety and travel on I-71 and I-75 between Ohio and Kentucky. The existing Brent Spence Bridge is structurally sound and will remain in service to support safe and efficient travel across the river.

“This study confirms what many already suspected – a new bridge is needed, as well as improvements to I-71/75 to address the explosive economic growth along this important transportation corridor," said Kentucky governor Matt Bevin.  

The study team evaluated five concepts and examined their ability to ease congestion and improve travel by diverting traffic from the Brent Spence Bridge and other river crossings. Of these five concepts, two were advanced for more in-depth study based on their potential to divert traffic from the Brent Spence Bridge as well as probable costs.

The concept of an eastern bypass in Kentucky is recommended for further study based on the potential transportation and economic development benefits it could offer the region. It does not, however, postpone the need for a new bridge, the study found.