Brent Spence Bridge

Michael Keating

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune believes there could be federal money coming for the replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge. 

Ohio and Kentucky have been looking for funding without counting on federal assistance.  But Portune says right now both the House and the Senate are working on a multi-year transportation bill that could help.

There are some Northern Kentucky leaders – those who oppose tolls to pay for a replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge - who are saying that Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, is no longer welcome in their part of the state.

And they don’t seem to care which bridge he crosses to get there.

It seems that Ohio’s Republican governor, who is not the shy and retiring type when it comes to speaking his mind, left some noses out of joint Wednesday when he hooked up with Kentucky’s Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, at Covington’s RiverCenter.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Ohio and Kentucky will share the costs of building a new bridge between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  The Brent Spence Bridge has been deemed functionally obsolete, carrying more traffic than intended. 

Ann Thompson / WVXU

When Governors John Kasich and  Steve Beshear hold a news conference in Covington Wednesday afternoon they are expected to elaborate on their plan to share the cost equally between Ohio and Kentucky. 

Many people are also wondering about a toll, something Northern Kentucky business leaders are against, but the governors say is necessary.

A study released in October 2013 projected $1 to $2 for cars; $3 to $6 for light trucks; and $5 to $10 for tractor-trailers.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The governors of Ohio and Kentucky plan to meet early next year to talk about replacing the Brent Spence Bridge. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says they're going to try to find a way to get the project moving.  He says any more delays will be costly.

Using a 3 percent inflation figure from the Federal Highway Administration, Beshear says continued delays will add about $7 million per month to the construction price tag.  “Folks, that’s $84 million a year,” he says.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell made a stop in the commonwealth Thursday. He spoke at the Northern Kentucky Area Development District's annual meeting.

Much of his speech focused on why he should be re-elected this November, but he began by addressing the region's heroin epidemic.

"It's the scourge of our rather affluent society," says McConnell, "but I think continuing to double down and cooperate at all levels of government is absolutely essential."

McConnell says Northern Kentucky remains the epicenter of the epidemic.

Michael Keating

Taxpayers will pick up the tab for an $8 million study of the impact of a reconstructed Brent Spence bridge on traffic, noise and the effect tolls will have on minorities and low-income persons.

The Ohio Controlling Board released the money Monday at the request of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT)

ODOT spokesman Brian Cunningham said the state of Ohio is in the process of working out a “memorandum of understanding” with the state of Kentucky. Once that is finished, Cunningham said, Kentucky will reimburse Ohio for half of the $8 million.

Michael Keating

At the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Friday, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell spelled out his solution for paying for a new Brent Spence Bridge. The Republican says he will propose repealing the Davis-Bacon Act that requires the government to pay the local prevailing wage for federal projects.

By getting rid of this requirement, McConnell says, it will provide $13 billion to the Brent Spence  and other bridges in need of repair over a ten year period.

Michael Keating

With the aging Brent Spence in the background, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 533 into law Wednesday, as reporters and other politicians looked on.

The bill, which allows Ohio to collect tolls on the bridge, doesn't mean anything until Kentucky drafts and signs similar legislation. In March, the Kentucky House voted 82-7 to prohibit tolls on any federal interstate between Ohio and Kentucky.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, speaking at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday, called on the business community to step up and work with the legislature to make the new Brent Spence bridge project happen. "You know, we've got a lot of things that need to be flexible that we need to pull together and work together on."