It’s more than 50 years old and its showing its age.

Construction of the Brent Spence Bridge started on Jan. 9, 1961, and took nearly three years to complete. The bridge cost approximately $12.57 million to build at the time. It was the first bridge over the Ohio River linking Northern Kentucky with Cincinnati in more than 72 years and the very first bridge to link directly to the Interstate highway system. Initially, the bridge carried only traffic on the I-75 corridor.

 

Traffic more than doubles bridge’s capacity.

In 1970, just six years after the bridge was completed, traffic from newly constructed Interstate 71 also was routed over the span. Suddenly, a bridge that was designed to carry only 80,000 vehicles per day was significantly over its designed capacity. Today, the Brent Spence Bridge carries more than 172,000 vehicles a day — more than double its capacity – and that number is expected to exceed 200,000 vehicles a day by 2025.

 

Emergency lanes removed; width of traffic lanes reduce.

When the bridge was built more than 50 years ago, it was constructed with three lanes in both directions and emergency lanes on both decks. However, in 1985, because of increased traffic and congestion, transportation officials removed all of the bridge’s emergency lanes and added another traffic lane to each deck.

This narrowed the four traffic lanes on each deck of the bridge to 11 feet in width, rather than the 12 feet required by the Federal Highway Administration. The minimum shoulder width for highways with more than three lanes is 10 feet on both sides of the traffic lanes. The bridge has no shoulders.

 

$400 billion in freight crosses bridge each year.

Today, the Brent Spence Bridge is a lynchpin of the I-75 corridor, a major commercial artery connecting the upper Midwest and Canada to the South. The bridge is critical piece of public infrastructure for both the region and the nation. More than $400 billion in freight crosses the bridge each year, and that amount is expected to double to $815 billion by 2030. More than 40,000 heavy trucks — approximately one-fourth of all vehicles crossing the bridge — traverse the span each day.