Skip to Content
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Log In
DC Streetsblog

In Push For Jobs Bill, Obama Picks the Wrong Bridge to Highlight

xxx AK

President Obama chose the home turf of two of his principal political opponents to highlight the need for more infrastructure investment in the U.S. Standing beneath the Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Cincinnati (the home city of House Speaker John Boehner) with Kentucky (the home state of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell), Obama made his demand of Congress: "Rebuild this bridge!"

The president was making a push for his $447 billion jobs bill, which could create an estimated 1.9 million jobs.

The Brent Spence Bridge is considered "functionally obsolete." "It's safe to drive on, but it was not designed to accommodate today's traffic, which can stretch for a mile," Obama said.

Many transportation reformers would rather see transportation agencies attend to "structurally deficient" infrastructure -- which is not safe to drive on, despite the fact that thousands of people do it every day -- instead of widening safe, existing roads. This particular bridge project, which local smart growth advocates have been warning about for years, would add more lanes and induce sprawl.

In a post earlier this summer, Jake Mecklenbourg of UrbanCincy criticized the bridge widening project and refuted the claim that the project is of national importance because it lies on a primary trucking route. "The Brent Spence Bridge, like most urban interstate bridges, primarily serves local commuters and delivery trucks," he wrote. "For fifteen years after its construction it was the region’s only interstate highway crossing. But between 1977 and 1979, three other interstate highway bridges opened nearby, providing numerous alternative routes through the Cincinnati area for long-distance travelers."

U.S. PIRG Tax and Budget Associate Dan Smith says that projects like the Brent Spence Bridge often get the green light because of industry lobbying. "While the road builders have long reaped higher profits by lobbying for new roads and more lanes, we cannot afford to waste scarce taxpayer dollars on new capacity before we fix what we already have," Smith said in response to Obama's speech.

Still, Smith said that the president was on the right track by pushing for repairs and maintenance of existing infrastructure -- especially if the goal is job creation. "Road and bridge repair projects have been shown to create 16 percent more jobs than building new roads, and there are over a million construction workers looking for a job," Smith said. "We should put them to work making our roads safer."

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Los Angeles

Don’t Believe the Hydrogen Train Hype

Calling hydrogen-powered trains "zero emission" is misleading at best - and even if they were, they lost the race to be "first" a long time ago

July 16, 2024

Upcoming CicLAvia Maps: August in the Hollywoods, September in Lincoln Heights, and More

Mark your calendars: August 18 in West Hollywood through East Hollywood, September 15 in Lincoln Heights, October 13 in the Heart of L.A., and December 8 in the Valley

July 15, 2024

This Week In Livable Streets

Metro board committees, Metro and Caltrans 605/5/10/60/105 freeway expansion, Arroyo Seco ride, C Line delays, 105 Freeway corridor equity, and more

July 15, 2024
See all posts