by Steve Bittenbender
Transportation officials in Kentucky and Ohio continue to work in concert on a new Ohio River bridge connecting Cincinnati with Northern Kentucky, and they hope construction on the more than $2 billion megaproject could start by the end of next year.
Besides building a companion bridge to the existing Brent Spence Bridge, officials in both states want to widen the interstate highways connected by the bridges. A 5-mile stretch in Kentucky and a 1-mile stretch in Ohio each would get one new lane in each direction across a 6-mile stretch.
Last week, solicitations were released for consultants to help with pre-construction work. Naitore Djigbenou, the executive director for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Office of Public Affairs, said letters of interest are due on May 31.
Then, officials will hold a June 7 industry forum at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington regarding the project. One-on-one meetings with officials from the two states will be available by request before the meeting.
According to documents on the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project’s website, officials then expect to issue a request for qualifications by Oct. 31 for a “Design-Build Offeror best suited to manage, design and construct the” bridge and highway upgrades.
The project team intends to use the request for qualifications to identify no more than three companies that would receive an invitation to respond to a request for proposals slated to be issued in January.
By late October 2023, the states plan to have the “best value” contractor identified to lead the project.
In the meantime, Ohio and Kentucky transportation staffers have been working with engineering firm HNTB to determine if any portion of the project could be done more cost-effectively.
“It’s very important in our current efforts that we confirm the previous decisions that were made through careful and thorough public engagement and environmental analysis in order to keep the project moving forward,” Stefan Spinosa, the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project Manager for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said in a statement. “We will continue to pursue cost-saving measures and ways to improve the project that will be consistent with our targeted timeline to begin construction by the end of 2023.”
Both states are also working to secure federal funding for the project. They are pursuing funds from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed by Congress last fall.
In the budget passed by the General Assembly earlier this year, Kentucky lawmakers approved setting aside $250 million toward the project. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has said that his goal is to secure enough federal funding to eliminate the need for tolls.
“We’re working closely with ODOT on this application to position the project to secure every available federal dollar,” said Stacee Hans, the BSBC Project Manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “With the full backing of both states’ leadership, our collaborative team in place and the work we’ve done to prepare for construction, we feel we will have a compelling application.”
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