The Brent Spence Bridge closure won’t go away anytime soon, so it may be time to find a permanent detour.
Kentucky governor Andy Beshear urged residents of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to prepare for the primary river crossing to close by December.
“We’re seeing weeks, maybe more than a month,” said Beshear on Thursday. “We have repairs that will take weeks to complete.”
Local traffic relief
Beshear provided some relief to local travelers on Friday afternoon in northern Kentucky.
A lane of I-75 / I-71 north between I-275 and the Brent Spence Bridge will open sometime on Friday night, Beshear said in a Facebook video.
“This lifting of traffic restrictions will help local traffic approach downtown Covington on I-75,” said Beshear.
Beshear also announced that the Roebling suspension bridge will be opened to traffic again at 8 p.m. Trucks are not allowed.
How long will it take?
Governors in both states said the bridge won’t reopen until it’s safe enough to cross the river.
Beshear said he believes the bridge can be repaired, but he’s not sure how long it will take.
“This is a very important bridge not only for the region but also for the nation,” said Beshear. He added that after the repair, he would not reopen the bridge until it was safe enough to “run my own family over”.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine asked for patience as inspectors checked “very serious” damage to the Brent Spence Bridge, a key artery between Cincinnati and northern Kentucky.
An inspection of the bridge takes at least until Saturday.
“We know how important this bridge is and how it can be rebuilt,” said DeWine. “Both governors are committed to making sure it is safe. Nobody will continue there until we feel safe to bring our own families there.”
More:The closure of the Brent Spence Bridge “officially broke my brain”. Twitter users react to the crash and closure of the Cincinnati Bridge.
What is happening today
On Thursday, inspectors climbed and deployed drones to get a close look at the bridge.
KYTC officials said a detailed inspection and material testing process was expected to take several days.
“While inspections are taking place, we work hard to prepare suppliers and contractors to start and carry out repairs,” officials said.
Roebling Bridge to reopen
Police say they will reopen the John A. Roebling suspension bridge at 8 p.m. on Friday – but not to commercial traffic.
Covington Police Lieutenant Colonel Brian Valenti told The Enquirer that there are many logistical issues with reopening the Roebling, including manpower and equipment.
Only passenger traffic is allowed to cross the historic bridge.
The suspension bridge was closed indefinitely on Wednesday “due to numerous and persistent violations of the bridge’s weight restrictions”.
More:Police: John A. Roebling suspension bridge can open Friday, but “no promises”
Why traffic will be such a headache
Of the five major bridges that span the river between downtown Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, the Brent Spence Bridge is by far the most heavily trafficked. And since it’s shut down, those 163,000 drivers will have to find an alternate route.
Together, the Brent Spence and Roebling bridges account for 172,440 vehicles per day, according to KYTC.
That’s more than half – 57.1% – of all traffic that crosses the river on the five major bridges between downtown Cincinnati and northern Kentucky.
More:“Fucking Mess”: Why the Brent Spence Bridge Closure Is More Than a Cincinnati Problem
Do you need a detour?
While kayaks and pontoons feel like viable options, there are other options.
All traffic on I-75/71 NB from Kentucky will be diverted to I-275.
Traffic on I-275 west can be reconnected to I-74 and I-75 after a short drive through Indiana. Traffic on I-275 eastbound can be connected to I-471 North and I-71 North. Motorists can also stay on I-275 and connect to other arteries heading north beyond the city limits.
Further detours:Brent Spence Bridge Closure: How to Cross the Ohio River in the Greater Cincinnati Area
Could this lead to the replacement project?
Ky Governor Andy Beshear wouldn’t speculate on whether the planned expansion of the bridge would have prevented the crash, but said it was time to get the project off the ground.
“I hope this creates additional momentum for the community. The communities on both sides of the bridge need to come together so that we can find a way forward,” said Beshear. “The disruption … should make all of us take a look and say what’s more, anyone willing to sacrifice or change or rethink to move the project forward and move forward.”
A truck carrying potassium hydroxide and an unknown amount of diesel fuel crashed into a jackknif truck on the north deck of Brent Spence Bridge on Wednesday at 2:45 a.m. on Wednesday, and caught fire, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Covington Police Department said.
Police said the fire, which lasted two hours, also damaged the upper deck of the bridge that contains the southbound lanes of the highway.
The potassium hydroxide added to the heat and duration of the fire, said Lieutenant Colonel Brian Valenti of Covington. Officials said the flame reached 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt asphalt and some steels. Nobody was injured.
More:Brent Spence Bridge: “We’re looking at weeks, maybe more than a month.”