Emergency Repair Of Cincinnati Bridge Wins Public Works Award

The American Public Works Association (AWPA) has named the emergency repair of Cincinnati’s Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio River as one of its projects of the year.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the award earlier this month. It came in the category of disaster or emergency construction repair of less than $5 million.

Winners in each category will be recognized in a video posted to on August 31.

“This nationally recognized bridge has now earned Kentucky national praise for the great work performed by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and its contractors to turn a crisis into an accomplishment,” Beshear said. “The expert repairs not only led to the quick reopening of an economically significant corridor during a bustling holiday season, but it preserved the safe condition of a bridge that will remain in service for decades to come.”

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The two-deck bridge carries 160,000 vehicles a day across the river between Covington, Ky., and Cincinnati on interstates 71 and 75. It was abruptly closed November 11, 2020, after two tractor-trailer rigs collided about midway on the bridge’s lower deck, causing fire damage to a portion of the bridge. Forty-one days later, on December 22, 2020, the bridge was reopened to traffic, fully restored, under budget and ahead of schedule, the governor’s office said.

“It would be hard to imagine a more challenging scenario,” said Jim Gray, secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC). “Abrupt loss of a critical connection on one of the busiest commercial corridors in the eastern United States. A global COVID pandemic. And winter weather. We conquered this combination of factors by quickly assembling a great team, being innovative and then working night and day without letup.”

APWA credited success of the project to “simultaneous efforts on multiple fronts, quick thinking and innovative project development and procurement used by KYTC and the engineering team,” which included the consultant Michael Baker International Inc., and the contractor, Kokosing Construction Company.

APWA CEO Scott D. Grayson said the annual awards recognize the alliance between managing agencies, contractors and consultants.

“The beauty of the Project of the Year Awards is that they highlight the amazing collaborative efforts to build and rebuild America’s infrastructure,” he said. “Every year, I’m amazed at the innovation and vision the award recipients share to improve quality of life for the public.”

APWA, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., is an international organization of more than 30,000 members involved in the field of public works.