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Brent Spence Bridge
The Brent Spence Bridge is the furthest bridge to the right as viewed from Downtown Cincinnati
Carries I-71.svgI-75.svg 8 lanes of I-71 / I-75
Crosses Ohio River
Locale Covington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio
Design Cantilever bridge
Coordinates 39°05′27″N 84°31′22″W / 39.09087°N 84.52291°W / 39.09087; -84.52291

The Brent Spence Bridge is a double decker cantilever truss bridge that carries Interstates 71 and 75 across the Ohio River between Covington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. The top deck carries southbound traffic while the bottom deck carries northbound traffic. It is arguably the most important transportation link in the Cincinnati region.[1] The Brent Spence Bridge is one of the 15 major interstate bridges the federal government has labeled "functionally obsolete"[2 ] and unsafe.[1] Motorists are five times more likely to have an accident on the bridge than on other interstate roadways in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.[3] The American highway Users Alliance ranks it as one of the 24 worst highway bottlenecks in the United States.[1]

The Brent Spence Bridge is in the foreground viewed from the Kentucky side.



When the bridge opened in November 1963 it carried three lanes of traffic each way across the Ohio River. In 1986, the emergency shoulders were eliminated, and the bridge was restriped with four lanes in each direction. The bridge was designed to carry 85,000 vehicles per day, but in 2007 it carried 155,000 vehicles per day.[1] It is expected to carry 200,000 vehicles per day by 2013.[1]

A study is currently underway to investigate the replacement and/or rehabilitation of the bridge. One proposal includes reusing the current bridge for I-71 traffic while building a new bridge for I-75 downstream. Others include building a new bridge to carry both interstates, either at the current location or downstream. If the current bridge is not rehabilitated for interstate traffic, it will either be demolished or rehabilitated for local street traffic.

Cincinnati City Council supports alternative #4, which involves building a new bridge to carry both interstates at the current location, and demolishing the Brent Spence Bridge.[4] Alternative #4 would build a parallel bridge just west of the Brent Spence Bridge.[5] It would again be a two deck bridge, except the top deck would carry all I-75 traffic and the bottom deck would carry all I-71 and local traffic.[5] The I-75 deck would be a total of 10 lanes, with 5 lanes each for north and south traffic.[5] The I-71 deck would be a total of 6 lanes, divided into 3 lanes each for north and south traffic.[5] Additionally, Cincinnati City Council has expressed interest in using the bridge for a light rail system that would connect downtown Cincinnati to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.[4]


The bridge was named for Kentucky's longest serving congressman at the time, Brent Spence, who served in the U.S. Congress for over thirty years before retiring in 1962. The bridge, which opened a year after his retirement, was named in his honor by then Kentucky governor Bert T. Combs. Spence didn't feel that he deserved the honor, and lobbied for the Bridge to be named for President Kennedy (who had been assassinated only three days before the bridge was supposed to open). Combs, however, resisted this effort at modesty by Spence and kept the name. Also, at the same time, Combs did name the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge in Louisville, Kentucky after the late president just days after Kennedy's assassination.

The approach from the Brent Spence Bridge, with the picture of the downtown Cincinnati skyline, was featured on the daytime soap The Edge of Night from 1967 to 1980.

See also


External links



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