Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray says that the Brent Spence Bridge is on schedule to reopen by Dec. 23.
This week, the last of the new concrete has been poured on the upper southbound deck — that includes the deck itself and the barrier walls. Crews also replaced the rebar reinforcement material on the upper deck barrier wall and have "milled" or stripped the top layer from the lower deck to replace it with fresh concrete.
"Now you'll remember that the lower deck did not receive the same damage as the upper deck," said Gray during today's press briefing, "and that is simply because the fire was burning upward and that's where most of the damage occurred."
The final concrete pour is slated for this Friday on the lower deck.
"Even with the forecast and winter weather, the contractors have put plans in place to create an appropriate environment for the concrete to cure and harden," he says.
The transportation cabinet has also taken this time to do some maintenance work on the bridge, including cleaning the overhead signs, some repaving on the northbound bridge approach (along with rumble strips and striping) and drainage repairs.
Before the bridge reopens to traffic, Gray says they'll be adding final touches like fresh lane striping and conducting multiple final inspections.
"I said from the beginning there would be no cutting corners on this project," he said.
"Folks on this project knew that we had to repair the bridge, and bring it back to a condition which was safe and sturdy and solid. And that is exactly what has been done."
Gray says the full repairs are expected to come in at less than the $12 million federal emergency funding allotted for the project.
KYTC District 6 Chief Engineer Bob Yeager says reopening the bridge to traffic will happen as soon as it possibly can.
"Once we get the OK that everything is out of the way, that all the equipment is out of the way, that everything's been done, we plan to open it up one lane at a time," says Yeager.
He says that's how they reopen any closure, starting at the beginning of the closure and working their way back until all the cones and restrictions are removed. They need to dismantle at least 8 miles of traffic control measures in Northern Kentucky, and several miles in Cincinnati as well.
"We really don't want people standing there waiting for us to pull the barrels out of the way so they can be the first ones across, but in the same sense we do want to get it open so we can get traffic back to as normal as we can," Yeager says.
He says ideally the bridge will reopen during an off time, not during rush hour.
The original repair plans, available at brentspencerepair.com, list the main fixes as:
- Replacing a section of the concrete as well as some of the support beams on the upper deck that carries southbound traffic from Ohio to Kentucky;
- Replacing a section of the concrete on the lower deck that carries northbound traffic from Kentucky to Ohio;
- Repairing electrical and drainage systems on the bridge
At roughly 2:45 a.m. on Nov. 11, a commercial truck jackknifed while driving northbound (lower) on the Brent Spence Bridge. A second truck, which was carrying potassium hydroxide, crashed into that vehicle. The wreck caused a massive fire which damaged both the lower and upper decks of the bridge, closing it to traffic for repairs to be completed.
The state said it is still conducting investigations into possible insurance claims against the trucking company.