Breaking News
More () »

President Biden highlights bipartisanship, infrastructure at Ohio-Kentucky bridge

Biden was joined by Gov. Mike DeWine, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Mitch McConnell and others in announcing $1.6 billion for the Brent Spence Bridge on the Ohio River.

COVINGTON, Ky. — President Joe Biden was at the Ohio-Kentucky border on Wednesday to announce that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $1.635 billion to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) to construct a new companion to the dilapidated Brent Spence Bridge.

Biden was joined by several representatives from both sides of the political aisle at the event in Covington, KY. The list included Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and former Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). 

“We all know these are really partisan times. But I always feel that no matter who gets elected, once it’s all over, we ought to look for things that we can agree on and try to do those, even while we have big differences on other things,” McConnell said in brief remarks before Biden took the stage. The Senate's minority leader called the bridge an example of bipartisanship that the “country needs to see.”

The bridge visit is part of a renewed push by Biden to highlight the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, which contains $1 trillion for roads and bridges, broadband networks and water projects across America. The money will be critical not just for the communities getting the help but to the Democratic president’s political theory that voters are hungry for bipartisanship that delivers tangible results.

“I believe it sends an important message, an important message to the entire country," Biden said from a stage overlooking the soon-to-be-renovated bridge. “We can work together. We can get things done. We can move the nation forward, but just drop a little bit of our egos and focus on what is needed in the country.”

The Brent Spence, which carries Interstates 71 and 75 between Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, was declared functionally obsolete by the Federal Highway Administration in the 1990s. It has become an outsized symbol of the nation's crumbling infrastructure, with successive presidents from both parties singling out the aging span as they stumped for better roads and bridges.

“Whether it’s a safer commute to work, or businesses safely and affordably transporting their products, this bridge will make life better for people in Ohio and Kentucky,” said Brown during his remarks. “Today shows just what we can achieve for the region and for the country when everyone works together.”  

Included in Biden's infrastructure law is Brown’s Bridge Investment Act, which provides $12.5 billion in funding to repair and replace nationally and regionally significant bridges, like the Brent Spence Bridge. The law also provides Ohio with $9.8 billion in formula funding to repair, replace, and upgrade roads and bridges throughout the state.

DeWine's office says that with funding secured, groundbreaking on the project is anticipated for late 2023, with substantial completion slated for 2029.

"Mr. President, we welcome you back. I can’t say welcome to Ohio, but you can at least see Ohio from here. Welcome back. We appreciate your leadership," DeWine told Biden during Wednesday's event. 

Biden's trip to greater Cincinnati comes as Republicans in the House of Representatives struggle to elect a new speaker. For the second day in a row, House Republicans were unable to vote Kevin McCarthy into the top spot after multiple ballots. 

“To have a Congress that can’t function is just embarrassing," Biden said before he left Kentucky to return to Washington. "We’re the greatest nation in the world. How could that be?”

Before You Leave, Check This Out