Ohio and Kentucky transportation officials are seeking letters of interest from firms for a $2.8-billion bridge and highway project linking the two states.

The Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project plan calls for construction of a companion bridge just west of the existing bridge over the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Covington, Ky., plus widening about five miles of the combined Interstate-71 and I-75 in Kentucky and one mile of I-75 in Ohio leading up to the bridges, with an extra lane on both the northbound and southbound sides, project documents specify. 

Ohio Dept. of Transportation and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials estimate the value of the contract at $2.2 billion. The difference from the overall price is for costs like right-of-way acquisition and relocating utilities, ODOT says.

State officials say they plan to call for bids in October, and to select a shortlist of up to three responding design-build teams. The teams will then be invited to submit a request for proposals to be issued next January. Officials expect to award the winning best-value contract on Nov. 1, 2023.

ODOT and KYTC have also scheduled an industry forum for any companies interested in working on the project. It will be held June 7 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington. Companies considering submitting a proposal can also email BSBProcurement@dot.ohio.gov to arrange a one-on-one meeting with the project team.

Value Engineering Expected

The states’ transportation officials are working with engineer HNTB on a value engineering process to seek ways to reduce the overall project cost. They expect to complete that process by the middle of next month. 

The Brent Spence Bridge dates to 1963. While the two-deck, cantilevered steel-truss bridge was reconfigured in the 1980s to account for more traffic, the Cabinet says it was designed to carry only half the number of vehicles that currently cross it each day, necessitating a companion bridge. Plans to build another bridge have been in the works for years, and federal officials approved the companion bridge plan in 2012. 

Officials say the existing bridge is structurally sound and has decades of service left. The concrete deck was replaced in 2017. A late-2020 project to rehabilitate the bridge following a fire won ENR’s Best of the Best Projects 2021 for highway/bridge work. The emergency project was also the subject of an ENR podcast.

Officials from the two states have formed a bi-state management team for the upcoming project. In February, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced a joint plan to pursue grant funding from the Dept. of Transportation to provide as much as $2 billion in infrastructure grant money for the work. ODOT will be the lead contracting agency.

ODOT project manager Stefan Spinosa says the project could break ground by the end of next year, if contract-letting plans stay on schedule.