President Joe Biden, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and other bipartisan leaders gathered Wednesday in Cincinnati to tout recently passed infrastructure that will allocate $1.6 billion to help pay to replace the aging Brent Spence Bridge. The move comes after Biden vowed to “fix that damn bridge” during a town hall in July 2021. Biden is now delivering on that promise.
Built in 1963, the Brent Spence Bridge which connects Cincinnati to Kentucky has been considered “functionally obsolete” for years. It has become a symbol of the nation’s declining infrastructure, with several presidents vowing to not only work on it but create better roads and bridges across the country.
While several issues have vied to gain bipartisan support, infrastructure bills and bridge projects bridge the political divide, with Congress approving the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
"I believe it sends a message, an important message, to the entire country," Biden said, referring to the law that made the bridge project possible, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. "We can work together. We can get things done. We can move the nation forward."
"After years of politics being so divisive, there are bright spots across the country," Biden added. "The Brent Spence Bridge is one of them."
\u201cBiden jokes at bipartisan infrastructure event:\n\n\u201cNewly elected Rep. Greg Landsman, he couldn\u2019t be here today. He\u2019s dealing with trying to figure out who\u2019s gonna be the next Speaker \u2026 I wish him a lot of luck ... He may be the first freshman ever elected Speaker ... "\u201d— The Recount (@The Recount) 1672856210
According to The Enquirer, the $1.6 billion in federal grants will help repair the Brent Spence Bridge and build a new bridge adjacent to it.
“It connects Michigan and Florida,” former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said in 2021 of the bridge, according to NBC News. “It's one of the most-traveled highways in the country. And if we're gonna be competitive with China and other countries, we've got to have vibrant, working infrastructure.”
According to WLWT, the project is expected to begin by 2023, but additional details (outside of the project expecting to last until 2030) are unknown at this time.
“I am thrilled that the President is choosing to visit Ohio and Kentucky to highlight how our economy and infrastructure continues to grow stronger because of his work,” Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval said in a statement regarding the visit.
“The historic amount of money going towards this project is proof of what can be accomplished through strong regional, bipartisan collaboration. This is just the beginning.”
While several people also questioned whether Biden’s stop in Kentucky was about highlighting his relationship with Mitch McConnell, who was one of 19 Senate Republicans to support the infrastructure law, Biden and McConnell dismissed such claims.
“This is a bridge that has been a major national issue for 25 years, my top transportation project for decades. And it’s going to be fully funded by the infrastructure bill, which I supported," McConnell told reporters Tuesday according to the Associated Press. “It's important for me to be there.”
The Brent Spence Bridge isn’t the only one Biden’s administration is planning to work on. According to the Federal Highway Administration, $400 million of the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package approved in 2021 has been allocated to the Golden Gate Bridge, in order to complete the third and final phase of the seismic upgrades that will allow it to withstand earthquakes.
"This project is as important as any transportation infrastructure project you can find in America," said Rep. Jared Huffman of San Rafael.
"Can you imagine the calamity and the damage if a major earthquake hit and the Golden Gate Bridge was seriously damaged or destroyed?" he continued. "That's the scenario you have to think about and plan for."
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.