Biden visits Kentucky to speak about Brent Spence Bridge project
COVINGTON, Ky. (WXIX/WKYT) - President Joe Biden visited Kentucky on Wednesday to tout spending more than $1 billion in federal grants to improve congestion on the aging Brent Spence Bridge.
Air Force One arrived Wednesday with President Biden at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport around 11:30 a.m. The president then held a news conference near the bridge, making a rare joint appearance with Senate Republican Majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Other elected officials at the event were Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, former Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican.
The Brent Spence Bridge links Covington and downtown Cincinnati over the Ohio River along Interstate 75, one of the busiest trucking routes in America.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced last week it would award $1.635 billion for the construction of a companion bridge to help unclog bridge traffic by separating truck traffic from local vehicles. This is from an infrastructure law Congress passed in late 2021 to help repair or rebuild 10 of the most economically significant bridges in the country.
“The grant to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will fund improvements to the Brent Spence Bridge, which is currently the second worst truck bottleneck in the nation and carries more than $400 billion in freight per year over the Ohio River,” reads a news release Wednesday from DOT.
The project also will improve “delays in the movement of freight that currently raise costs for American families.”
The Brent Spence Bridge was declared functionally obsolete by the Federal Highway Administration in the 1990s. More recently, it has become a symbol of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump called attention to it.
Obama delivered a speech underneath the bridge in 2011, promising to rebuild it. He called on McConnell and then-House Speaker John Boehner of West Chester Township to support a jobs package that would fix it and other aging bridges.
“This is a project that multiple presidents have promised, that’s been up in Washington for a long time,” Beshear said. “What it’s going to mean to the northern Kentucky, Cincinnati community, but all of Kentucky, all of Ohio, and all of the country is pretty special. And it’s going to continue this economic job growth that we are seeing that I think is going to continue long after inflation has subsided.”
Biden said the amount of infrastructure improvements being made helps thousands of Americans, whether it be for travel or for the economy.
“All this is about making an investment in America’s heartland and America’s people, America’s future,” Biden said. “It’s about making things in America again. It’s about good jobs. It’s about the dignity of work. It’s about respect. And folks, it’s about damn time we’re doing it.”
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