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Biden visiting Covington Wednesday to talk infrastructure, jobs in wake of toll-free funding plan for I-75 bridge

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Biden visiting Covington Wednesday to talk infrastructure, jobs in wake of toll-free funding plan for I-75 bridge

Jan 02, 2023 | 12:23 pm ET
By Jack Brammer
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Biden visiting Covington Wednesday to talk infrastructure, jobs in wake of toll-free funding plan for I-75 bridge
Brent Spence Bridge spans the Ohio between Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. (Ohio Department of Transportation photo)

This article is republished from the Northern Kentucky Tribune.

President Joe Biden is to visit Covington Wednesday to tout how his economic plan is rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, using the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project as a major example.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, U.S. Senate Republican Mitch McConnell of Louisville and Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio announced last week that the project between Covington and Cincinnati has been awarded federal funding grants worth more than $1.6 billion.

The money gives the landmark bridge and corridor project the green light to move toward construction without tolls.

The White House issued a release Sunday of Biden’s visit to Covington. It is believed he will be the first president to make Covington a destination stop since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The release said Biden “will deliver remarks on how his economic plan is rebuilding our infrastructure, creating good paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree and revitalizing communities left behind.”

Biden’s visit will be open to the media and additional details of it are to follow.

It is expected the two governors, McConnell and other political leaders will be in attendance. Beshear is to deliver his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night on the second day of this year’s state legislative session.

Dan Hassert, spokesman for Covington Mayor Joe Meyer, said Sunday night, “This is a big deal for Covington.”

He said the mayor has been working with the president’s office in recent days to make the visit possible.

“We certainly appreciate the president’s leadership to make this happen and all the work of Gov. Beshear.”

Beshear promised during his 2019 campaign for governor that he would try to raise funds for the project without tolls. The project involves building a companion bridge west of the Brent Spence, which was built in the 1960s to carry about 80,000 vehicles a day.  It has doubled that number in recent years since I-75 has become a key freight corridor stretching from Canada to Florida.

There also will be improvements to the current bridge.

Groundbreaking for the project is anticipated in late 2023. Substantial completion is slated for 2029.

Besides the federal dollars, the Kentucky General Assembly secured $250 million in the state’s two-year road plan that helped the state’s application for the federal funding.

While Northern Kentucky officials have been clamoring for the project without tolls, officials in Louisville have expressed frustration with tolls on the Kennedy, Lincoln and Lewis and Clark bridges between Louisville and southern Indiana.

Tolls were placed on those bridges because federal infrastructure money was not available when they were built. Area officials have been pushing for more federal dollars to ease the costs of the tolls.