Ohio citizens and construction industry members alike are celebrating now that the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project is set to break ground this year. Following the recent announcement of earning $1.6 billion federal funding, construction will start in earnest in early 2024. The $3.6 billion project includes improvements in Ohio, Kentucky and the existing Brent Spence Bridge, as well as the creation of a new companion bridge for I-71/I-75 traffic.
We spoke with Stefan Spinosa and Thomas Arnold, who have been key players in moving this project forward, with Spinosa acting as project manager for the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project since 2005 and Arnold leading diversity and inclusion efforts and post-procurement project management.
An Investment for Everyone
Though the current bridge is still considered safe, locals and visitors are eager for this improvement.
“Anyone who has gone to the airport and gripped their steering wheel with white knuckles will be excited to fix that problem for all of us,” said Arnold.
“We’re excited to have the ability to put some benefit to the region and nation with work on the ground,” added Spinosa.
Given what this project means for our region, it’s understandable that this has been an incredible collaborative effort from the very beginning.
“Both ODOT and Kentucky have put a lot of effort to get to this point,” said Spinosa. “We’re excited to put some benefit to this region and the nation to get it on the ground.”
“We really have come together as one team, from the top to the bottom,” added Arnold. “Both governors have modeled that, down to the staff level. We’re carrying out the project together.”
All Hands On Deck
This multi-state collaboration is critical for this large undertaking. In fact, it’s so large that the overall project budget is about Ohio’s total annual infrastructure budget. With the size of the project, it’s no surprise there is a high demand for workers.
“One contractor gave us an estimate that at peak construction there will be 500 laborers on the jobsite at once,” he said. “We envision that there will be a significant workforce need and multiple trades will be associated with that.”
As a classic heavy highway project, there will be great need for the wide range of trades, but Spinosa notes that two of the most in-demand positions will be within construction engineering and technical inspection. But, a hopeful team member won’t need to have decades of experience to be considered.
“It’s such a big project that’s going to be under development all at once,” said Arnold. “We’re looking to hopefully bring folks to the industry.”
As part of their workforce development efforts, Arnold notes that they have a 15% on-the-job training goal. This means that apprentices and interns will be able to make an impact on our region and their resumes. And as the largest project in our recent history, over the next 5 years, novices could learn a trade and hone their skills while working on this 6-mile long project.
“Someone could go from an apprentice to a journeyman,” shared Arnold. “It’s a perfect project to learn on.”
And while this project is the biggest by far, there are other big initiatives beyond the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project throughout our state that will need skilled workers to get the job done.
“We have private work happening around the state with Intel and the LG Honda plant coming online too,” Arnold added. “It’s a great time to be entering the construction industry with those three aspects coming our way.”
In addition to supporting workforce development, the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project is also prioritizing diversity and inclusion efforts. Arnold, along with other committee and industry members, have been working hard on diversity and inclusion outreach already. As of today, they have committed to contracting 9% of the work with Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)’s in the design phase and 7% in the final engineering and construction.
Ready to work?
No matter what stage you are in your career, you could help transform the region by working on the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor. Sign up for the newsletter on the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project website to stay up to date on any and all opportunities. You’ll want to be in the know, because as soon as the design builder is on board, both Spinosa and Arnold expect an immediate strong effort on all fronts.
“We’ve been in a “this is not a drill” mode – now we are in “go” mode,” said Arnold.
Be on the lookout for an updated project website within the next month or so, complete with links for businesses and individuals to join the team and learn about the various roles needed as well as information from labor unions and professional organizations.