Friday, April 4, 2003

Lucas makes pitch for Brent Spence funding

By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - In a sales pitch Thursday potentially worth $100 million a minute, Rep. Ken Lucas asked the House subcommittee writing a new highway bill to include all the money needed to replace the Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio River.

Lucas, a Democrat who represents Northern Kentucky, was one of 45 members making presentations to the House highway subcommittee. Lucas sought $500 million for a new bridge, a figure that includes $98 million for planning and engineering.

The 40-year-old bridge carries Interstates 75 and 71 between Cincinnati and Covington. About 150,000 vehicles use it every day, nearly twice what it was designed for, Lucas said. Some studies have shown it has less than 15 years of useful life left.

House members have submitted requests for money to pay for 5,300 road and transit projects nationwide that collectively would cost about $500 billion.

As it does every six years. Congress writes the bill that controls what highway, bridge and transit projects will get money. About $19 billion of the $375 billion House bill will be devoted to local projects, such as the Brent Spence, improvements in the Eastgate area of Interstate 275 and the Sixth Street Viaduct in Cincinnati.

Lucas didn't get a yes or a no from the subcommittee. A draft of the House bill listing local projects probably won't be ready until summer, said Steve Hansen, spokesman for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.


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