Preferred Ohio River bridge plan chosen for I-75

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COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Transportation planners have chosen a preferred plan for replacing the bridge that carries Interstate 75 over the Ohio River.

The new span will replace the aging Brent Spence Bridge, which carries traffic between Covington, Ky., and Cincinnati. The project is expected to cost $2.4 billion.

The Kentucky Enquirer (http://cin.ci/HryfFS ) reported late Tuesday that the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments wants a plan that limits impact on riverfront businesses and homes and is about $200 million less expensive that other alternatives.

Planners are still considering three plans for the new bridge, which will be built just west of the one it will replace. The project is eight years into the planning stage and still at least three years away from the beginning of construction.

The bridge is 48 years old. The double-deck span is functionally obsolete, overcrowded and deemed unsafe.

The preferred design would preserve access to Covington from southbound Interstate 75.

"We have to get these concerns addressed in the most appropriate way, because at the end of the day, we have to build a bridge. And it has to be built so that it invigorates economic activity and provides greater safety," said Mark Policinski, executive director of the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

The public will get a chance to comment on the design during public hearings scheduled for April 24 and 25.

"We're going to present everything we've done to date, and then present information about why we're making the recommendations we are, and we're looking for public input back," said Stefan Spinosa, project manager for the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The biggest impact of the 7.8 mile I-75 overhaul would be felt in areas near the Ohio River, including Covington, Ky., and Queensgate, Ohio.

The estimated $2.48 billion price tag for the entire project includes the interstate overhaul in both states, work planned for the existing bridge and construction of a new bridge.

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com