National and state chamber leaders say 2021 is the year to invest in infrastructure
Leaders from the U.S. Chamber, the Kentucky Chamber, the Cincinnati Chamber, the Northern Kentucky Chamber and the Ohio Chamber hosted a press conference on Thursday to discuss the urgent need for federal and state infrastructure action in order to revitalize local infrastructure projects, like the Brent Spence Bridge.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley stressed the cost of inaction, pointing to the Brent Spence Bridge, the nation’s second busiest bridge, as a real-life example of what happens when infrastructure fails.
With over 200,000 vehicles traveling the bridge per day, and being declared functionally obsolete in 2011, it is considered the poster child for the need to invest in transportation. The issue of the bridge is not that it will fall down, it is the unsafe nature of the bridge, said many chamber leaders.
The U.S. Chamber along with a broad-based coalition of over 300 businesses and organizations have joined together to urge Congress to take action by July 4, 2021, and Bradley believes there is no better time than this year to pass bipartisan legislation at the federal level. “If not now, then when,” said Bradley.
Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts discussed the vital role transportation plays on the economy. “Kentucky is in a prime geographic location, and there is no better way to prioritize economic growth,” said Watts.
“There is no better example of the need for increased infrastructure funding than the Brent Spence Bridge. Every day 3% of the nation’s GDP crosses the bridge. So when it is closed down, or there are delays, the impacts on our economy are severe,” said Watts. “As we work toward economic recovery, we must prioritize infrastructure funding at both the state and federal level.”
Watts also talked about the effort by the Kentucky Chamber and many groups across the Commonwealth to invest in infrastructure, declaring 2021 the ultimate year to pass bold infrastructure packages.
“The Brent Spence Bridge is not a local bridge with local traffic. It carries two interstate highways and tens of thousands of cars and trucks every day. It’s an indispensable connector on one of the most important traffic corridors in the eastern United States, but it’s being asked to do far more than it was built for,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. “A second bridge is urgently needed, not only to share the traffic load but also for the economic stimulus it would provide. Kentucky and Ohio are willing to do their part. Congress needs to step up as well. Congress needs to meet its obligations on our interstate system and at least provide significant help on financing a new bridge to complement the Brent Spence.”
“With its international airport and its highway connections, Northern Kentucky is strategically situated to be a leading hub in the country for air and highway freight. But for Northern Kentucky to reach its full potential, its traffic congestion issues must be solved,” said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray. “The Brent Spence Bridge is solid and sturdy but is being asked to carry twice the number of vehicles it was designed for, and so it becomes a traffic bottleneck. The bottleneck, however, isn’t confined to the immediate area of the bridge itself. It’s a problem along the entire Brent Spence corridor. The solution is the added capacity of a companion bridge.”
Watch the U.S. Chamber video on the Brent Spence Bridge below: