Infrastructure bill could bring needed funds for Brent Spence, other Ohio bridges

By: - January 20, 2022 3:50 am

The recently passed infrastructure bill is set to fund millions of dollars in bridge projects throughout the state, which could include some of the state’s biggest thoroughfares.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said the $100 million in bridge formula funding coming to Ohio through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will bring direct funding as well as competitive grants, allowing everyone from the Ohio Department of Transportation to local county engineers to address maintenance priorities they couldn’t fund in the past.

“This is about making communities safer, making bridges safer,” Brown said in a press call on Wednesday.

So much of the infrastructure in the nation is interconnected, making many thoroughfares throughout the state important not only to Ohio residents, but to companies and services coming from surrounding areas.

Christina Muryn, Republican mayor of Findlay, said the part of I-75 comes through Hancock County rolls goods and services through Ohio, making upkeep important for the local and state economy.

“This is a primary corridor for Findlay and Hancock County where we see industrial growth and planned residential growth,” Muryn said.

It’s those types of projects that are only funded well when they have the input and investment of the community, Muryn said.

“When you go to each community, they can tell you where you’re going to get the best bang for your buck,” Muryn said.

Muryn’s home county, for example, has 372 bridges that are county-maintained, along with 200 center-line miles of road, of which road maintenance crews can only cover about 15 miles a year with the funding as it currently stands.

While Brown said most of the decisions will be made through ODOT, the agency has a list of priorities they’ve curated with the help of local district directors.

Brown said he had particular focus in mind for big bridges in the state, such as the Brent Spence Bridge, traversing the Ohio River between Kentucky and Ohio’s state lines. The bridge, which carries the freight equivalent of 3% of the nation’s gross domestic product according to the National Association of Manufacturers, is in need of improvements and repair after seven decades in existence.

ODOT and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have been working together to put together traffic studies and other documentation to decide the best way to use the bridge and an additional bridge to help with increased traffic flow in the area. Brown said he’s confident funding will be secured for that specific project, but that total finances needed to complete the project will be “into the billions of dollars.”

Brown said his office plans to have a meeting in February to help county engineers and other local road crews figure how to apply for funding and which funding would work best for them. That way, projects that are still being visualized and those that are already underway can all receive the funding they need.

“Studies have been done, ground has been broken,” Brown said. “The dirt will start flying around the state of Ohio and jobs will be created pretty quickly.”

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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