Improvement of the bridge situation was made a top local issue in 2002.   Since then wheels have been set in motion and along with the bridge nearly twenty miles between it and I-275 are planned to be radically reconfigured by 2015.  How the existing bridge and highway will be modified and what new items might be constructed have not been decided upon, and at this inchoate point almost anything imaginable is still on the table.  What is certain is that the safety and capacity of the river crossing and I-75 will be improved.  The Brent Spence Bridge might be replaced by a larger bridge or a pair of medium-sized ones, or it might carry on alongside a new I-75 bridge as I-71's crossing, with the I-75/71 junction moved south of the river to Covington. 

The old B&O Warehouse might be partially demolished to make way for a new bridge approach.
[Jake Mecklenborg August 1, 2005]


An excerpt from the 1/30/04 Cincinnati Post:
An advisory committee to the project looked at the six preliminary options this week that conceptualize approximate locations for the bridge to begin analyzing the rough cost and impact on the dense city property each might have.

"They're called scenarios. They're too broad-brushed to be called alternatives at this point," said Lee Flischel, immediate past chairman of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce who attended the Wednesday advisory committee meeting.

The scenarios are:

1. A new bridge to the west of Brent Spence that would carry I-75 and a refurbished Brent
Spence for I-71 and local traffic. The new bridge would be built west of the historic Longworth
Hall and the Cinergy electricity substation.

2. A new bridge west of Longworth and Cinergy to carry I-71 and I-75, leaving local
traffic on the Brent Spence.

3. New bridges on each side of Brent Spence, one for each interstate, with an option to refurbish
or raze the Brent Spence after the new bridges are open.

4. A new bridge to the west to carry all traffic.

5. A new bridge to the west with a completely new interchange in Cincinnati, removing the Brent Spence.

6. Separating the interstates on two bridges that would use existing approaches. I-75 would be
placed on the new bridge, and I-71 would use either a rehabbed Brent Spence or a second new
bridge that would replace the Brent Spence.

The #5 alternative would bring the most dramatic change to the city, requiring reconstruction of the 6th St. Expressway and the purchase of many buildings in the Queensgate industrial complex.  However, this considerable expense would be offset by the reclamation of much land currently occupied by expressways, and the development of 6-8 new city blocks on the southwestern edge of downtown.  This is the area where the convention center was in the 1990's proposed to expand over I-75 and with the existing expressways removed, the expansion could be built less expensively and with a more desirable layout.

[scenario #5 has been eliminated from consideration -- 4/17/04]

Below are rasterized jpeg files of the pdf's that appeared in the 2/2/04 online version of the Cincinnati Post.  They each show much more than the above graphics and are roughly 1.5mb in size:

1.  Scenario 1
2.  Scenario 2
3.  Scenario 3
4.  Scenario 4
5.  Scenario 5
6.  Scenario 6

Brent Spence Tunnel?
A tunnel could significantly reduce the cost and hassle of properly acquisition and business relocation in the Queensgate industrial complex and to a lesser extent the Covington riverfront.  However, as can be seen in the diagram below, a subterranean Queensgate approach would result in a tunnel of exceptional length.  Assuming portals in Goebel's Park in Covington and Ezzard Charles Drive in Cincinnati, this "Brent Spence Tunnel" would measure 9,500-10,500ft. -- the combined length of Pittsburgh's Ft. Pitt and Liberty Tunnels, and as much as a quarter mile longer than the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, New York City's longest.  This tunnel would in fact be the longest urban expressway tunnel in the country, with the exception of Boston's recently completed I-93/I-90 tunnels.  Additionally, nearly all underwater and bored tunnels are limited to two-lane tubes, an obvious disadvantage as compared to any bridge option.

A hypothetical "Brent Spence Tunnel" -- be aware that this diagram was drawn by Jake Mecklenborg and was
not an officially published graphic!   Click Here for a larger version of this diagram.

                          Brent Spence tunnel option too expensive
                             Ask a question  2/5/04

                             By Dave Hofmeister
                             The Cincinnati Enquirer

                             Question: Replacing the Brent Spence Bridge with a
                             tunnel might be a very cost-effective and far-reaching
                             economic development solution. Will a study be
                             undertaken as an alternative to just replacing the
                             bridge? Today's technology and engineering learned in
                             part through the "Big Dig" project in Boston might
                             reduce the costs and provide a multitude of long-term
                             gains for the region.

                             E.H. Luttrell, West Chester
                             Answer: The idea of digging a tunnel under the Ohio
                             River rather than building a new span was considered,
                             a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet official said.

                             But the idea was quickly ruled out because the cost is
                             too high, said Mike Bezold, acting branch manager for
                             pre-construction at the District 6 office in

                             Transportation Cabinet officials estimated it would
                             cost $1 billion to tunnel under the river, rather than
                             the estimated $750 million to replace the bridge.

                             Add in the higher maintenance costs for a ventilation
                            system and lights, Bezold said, and a tunnel becomes

                             Question: Concerning daily traffic congestion on the
                             Brent Spence Bridge: Why not reroute the Interstate 71
                             vehicles going north in Kentucky to I-275 East to
                             I-471 North? This traffic could then cross the river
                             via the Big Mac and go from I-471 in Ohio to I-71
                             North. Why wouldn't it work?

                             Roger Koch, Oxford
                             Answer: The stumbling block here is the Daniel Carter
                             Beard Bridge, also known as the Big Mac.

                             Bezold said that the Big Mac, just like the Brent
                             Spence, already is handling more traffic than it was
                             designed for - for the Big Mac, about one-third more.
                             Emergency lanes have been taken out on both to
                             accommodate more traffic, but this carries a risk.

News Archive
Cincinnati Post 1/25/03  Brent Spence: It Won't Last Forever
Cincinnati Post 3/9/00 Brent Spence Bridge has to go

1. Recent Brent Spence Bridge Photos

2. Back to Main