Officials in Kentucky and Ohio have selected a joint venture of Walsh Group and Kokosing Construction Co. for their Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project, they announced July 27. The contract covers work estimated to cost $3.1 billion. 

The plan calls for construction of a new bridge carrying Interstates 71 and 75 over the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Covington, Ky., plus improvements on 5 miles of I-71/75 in Kentucky and 1 mile of I-75 in Ohio. Officials have so far considered cable-stayed and arch bridge design options. The states opted for a progressive design-build contract with the joint venture, named Walsh Kokosing Design-Build Team, which officials say will help control material costs and allow for design revisions if necessary.

“This is one of the largest highway construction projects ever undertaken in the U.S.,” said Jim Gray, secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, in a statement. “We are confident that Walsh Kokosing’s experienced team, with their solid track record of completing projects approaching this size, possesses the talent, skills and know-how to deliver this complex bridge and highway system.”

Officials also plan improvements on a 2-mile stretch of I-75 in Ohio at an estimated cost of $500 million, which would be done under a separate contract. That would also include construction of a new interchange at Cincinnati’s Western Hills Viaduct.

The project team also includes design and engineering firms AECOM, Parsons and Jacobs, plus diversity, inclusion and outreach consultant WEB Ventures, according to the joint announcement from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R). The states also enlisted a consulting team led by HNTB with HMB Professional Engineers Inc., American Structurepoint Inc. and Rasor. 

The project is aimed at improving traffic flow and safety. It would include improvements to the existing cantilevered steel-truss Brent Spence Bridge, which currently carries the highways and sees average daily traffic of more than 163,000 crossings, far more than what it was designed to handle. The existing bridge has four lanes in each direction but no emergency lanes. The new two-level bridge would have five lanes in each direction plus emergency lanes, though its design has not yet been finalized. Following construction of the new bridge, the existing bridge would be reconfigured to carry local traffic. 

John Householder, president of Kokosing Construction, emphasized in a statement the importance of the bridge corridor for freight transportation and called the project “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform this vital connector.”

“The Brent Spence Bridge Corridor plays a key role in the Greater Cincinnati region and throughout Ohio and Kentucky, while also connecting Michigan to Florida and New York to Los Angeles,” Householder said.

Kokosing was also previously the general contractor for an emergency rehabilitation project on the bridge after it was damaged in 2020 by a truck fire. 

As ENR previously reported, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration announced in January that it would provide a $1.385-billion grant for the project through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act-funded Bridge Investment Program. FHWA officials also said the project was set to receive $642 million in other federal funding. 

The project has been through years of planning, but languished without funding. Ohio Dept. of Transportation and KYTC officials say more than 300 firms participated in an industry forum last year. They issued a request for proposals for design-build services in February. 

Work is expected to start late this year and officials anticipate completion in 2030.