Economy Kentucky Politics

Crews are working through the Thanksgiving holiday to repair the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Covington to Cincinnati across the Ohio River.

The bridge has been closed since November 12, when a truck hauling potassium hydroxide crashed into a jackknifed truck, starting an intense fire.

Repairs are expected to be complete by December 23.

Drivers who need to cross the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky can find detours at brentspencerepair.com, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray said during an update Wednesday morning.

“Essential services and personnel still have to keep moving,” Gray said. “While the repair project is going on, we encourage all travelers to plan to pass through the region to plan your trip, plan ahead, know your route.”

Gray also signed an order discouraging large trucks from detouring through downtown Covington, causing traffic jams.

The bridge is a major artery on the I-71/75 corridor. About 170,000 vehicles cross the 57-year-old double-decker bridge every day.

Repairs include replacing support beams, concrete and electrical and drainage systems.

Gray said that the first new support beams are on their way to the bridge.

“Safety remains our number one priority on this project. We will be engaging this repair project urgently, but not hastily. There will be no cutting corners in this project,” Gray said.

The Brent Spence Bridge has been in need of repairs for years. The Federal Highway Administration declared the bridge functionally obsolete in the 1990s.

Federal, state and local officials have debated how to finance the $2.3 billion project, with local Northern Kentucky officials arguing against using tolls.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.