A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Routine maintenance to begin on NKy’s Brent Spence (I-71/75) Bridge March 1; two lanes to remain open


The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) will undertake routine maintenance to clean and paint the Brent Spence Bridge will begin March 1, weather permitting.

The project, which is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 15, 2021, will require various lane closures on the bridge, as well as the closure of several ramps that provide access to the bridge.

“This is a routine project that is part of the normal lifecycle of a major structure like the Brent Spence Bridge,” said Bob Yeager, Chief District Engineer of KYTC’s District 6 office. “Just as you have to perform regular maintenance on your personal property like your car and your home so it stays in good working order, we have to perform regular maintenance on our public infrastructure to ensure it remains safe for long-term use.”

“The bridge was first painted when it was opened in 1963, and it was painted again in 1991,” continued Yeager. “The average life expectancy of a paint job of this nature is about 20 years. We’ve been able to extend that life cycle by performing routine upkeep, but now is the time for a more comprehensive cleaning and painting of the entire structure.”

More than 35,000 gallons of paint are expected to be used to cover more than 1.5 million square feet of surface area. The bridge will be painted gray in accordance with KYTC Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction. In addition to cleaning and painting, crews will complete other routine maintenance tasks, including drainage work, signage repairs, and replacing interstate emblems on the roadway surface.

Coordinated phases for maintenance work

Phase 1 – Northbound

Weather permitting, the maintenance project will begin Monday, March 1.

Crews will begin setting up containment and other equipment that will support the first phase of work on the bridge. As work is completed, the traffic pattern on the bridge will be shifted.

In Phase 1, the two easternmost lanes of the bridge will remain open, and the two westernmost lanes will be closed. As the project progresses, the two westernmost lanes will be open and the two easternmost lanes will be closed.

In addition to the lane closures on the bridge, there also will be several ramp closures impacting access to the bridge. The following ramps will be closed for the duration of the project:

In Ohio:

• The ramp to I-71 southbound from Fort Washington Way
• The ramp to I-71 southbound from Third St.
There will be no access to I-71 southbound from Downtown Cincinnati.

In Kentucky:

• The ramp to I-71/75 northbound from Fourth St.
Drivers are encouraged to plan their drive, and when possible, use alternate routes to get around the bridge.

“In 2017, when we replaced the concrete deck on the bridge, we set-up similar traffic patterns – with two lanes of travel remaining open throughout the course of that project,” said Yeager. “What we observed then was that drivers adjusted their routes and traffic volumes on the bridge decreased. There was not a significant change in travel times for those who used the bridge for their daily travel.”

Digital resources for project and travel information

Project status and related traffic information will be provided on the project website as well as project social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter. In addition, drivers can consult various travel advisory services, including WAZE and OHGO, and should pay particular attention to the digital signage around the region, which monitors traffic information and provides travel times to various destinations.

Phase 1 — Southbound

Timely completion

“Typically, a maintenance project of this size and scope would have significant impacts over at least two construction seasons,” said Yeager. “Recognizing the important connection the Brent Spence Bridge provides for many who travel to and through the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, we structured our contract with North Star Painting Company to complete this maintenance work as efficiently as possible. Working in two of the four lanes on both decks will allow us to maintain reduced traffic on the bridge as maintenance work progresses and restore the full movement of traffic as quickly as we can.”

North Star Painting Company, an Ohio-based company, was awarded the contract as the low bidder at $35.8 million. The majority of the cost is in specialized equipment and personnel required to clean and paint the main span, as well as the Kentucky and Ohio approaches to the bridge.

In addition to maintaining traffic across the bridge throughout the project, crews must also work carefully to keep debris out of the water and the roadway.

“We expect our contractor to be meticulous about the task at hand,” said Yeager. “We are requiring them to keep a portion of the bridge open to traffic while being mindful of the tremendously challenging environment in which they have to work.”


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