July 24, 2012
Brent Spence Bridge project: spanning the divide
In May, at a joint board meeting of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the business community outlined a plan to not only build a new bridge, but build it ahead of schedule.
The plan will shave five to 10 years off the projected construction timeline for a new bridge to complement the existing Brent Spence Bridge. It includes creating a financing plan by the end of next year and completing construction by 2018, generating $500 million in construction cost savings.
"We simply cannot wait 11 years for a new bridge," said Julie Janson, CEO of Duke Energy in Ohio and Kentucky and 2012 chair of the Chamber. "Each year that passes, bridge-related costs increase by $100 million and we waste $748 million in gridlock expenses. This new sense of urgency pays off big time - if we courageously embrace this call to action."
Estimates indicate that 20 years after the completion of the project, the $2.5 billion to $3 billion invested to complete the project would result in $18.9 billion in benefits for commuters, shippers and manufacturers, an ROI of 600 percent.
"In our region, when the business community steps up, things get done," said Matt Davis, vice president of government affairs for the Chamber.
How do you begin such an enormous and expensive undertaking? With a plan.
Possible designs of the Brent Spence Bridge from the top: the Tied Arch, the Symmetrical Towers and the Single Tower. Design by Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. Rendering by Rosales + Partners.
Nine steps to a new bridge
1. Call to action (Complete) Janson spelled it out at the February 2012 Chamber Annual Dinner: "Today, I am asking the Chamber to help build one bridge. A bridge that will link our region to the new world economy."
2. CEO outreach and fundraising (Ongoing) A nine-member executive advisory group, responsible for raising funds for an advocacy/lobbying campaign and a public education campaign, will be selected.
3. The Coalition to Build Our New Bridge Now (BN2) (Ongoing) BN2 was recently formed as a 501 c(4) organization. Membership will be comprised of business, community, labor, and political leaders. The BN2 Coalition will push for the creation of a bi-state effort that will recommend a plan to fund, finance,
design and construct the new bridge and perform necessary rehabilitation on the existing Brent Spence Bridge. An executive director will be appointed to lead day-to-day activities.
4. Public education and advocacy (Ongoing) The BN2 executive director will begin leading public relations and lobbying efforts, as well as grassroots advocacy, surrounding the bridge replacement. A website, buildournewbridgenow.com, has been created to support this effort.
5. Bi-state agreement related legislation (Initiated) The work has already begun with the Ohio and Kentucky transportation departments to push for an early agreement-by the end of 2013 - between the states on how to proceed.
6. Kentucky-Ohio agreement created (Future) Ohio-Kentucky bi-state financing agreement will be created.
7. Funding legislation (Future) The BN2 will lobby state and federal legislatures to bring the recommendations of the bi-state authority to fruition.
8. Bi-state plan approved (Future) Under a memorandum of understanding between the governors of Ohio and Kentucky, legislatures will approve bi-state authority recommendations.
9. Bridge building begins (Future) Bridge construction will begin in 2015, with completion slated for 2020. "It can't and it won't be built unless everybody's
pulling in the same direction," Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson said at the joint board meeting. "The men and women in this room can make the kind of difference that you need to have made."