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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Brent Spence Bridge replacement designs released

The $2+ billion Brent Spence Bridge replacement designs have been narrowed to six. Parsons Brinckerhoff came up with the following six designs with the objective of creating an "architecturally distinctive" that can become a local landmark while also having a "visual relationship" with the existing Brent Spence Bridge.

The visual opportunity, for those crossing the bridge, to see the surrounding city and landscapes also influenced the final six design options. There is also the complication of the heavy river traffic attempting to navigate the bend of the river and the many supports of another six bridges within the urban span of waterway.

The majority of the options are the cable stayed variety as you might expect with a bridge attempting to be "architecturally distinctive" in the 21st Century. Most of the designs come across as cliche to me, but I do appreciate the single tower cable stayed option (#12) for its uniqueness and profound architectural impact on the riverfront and center city. The other design option that works for me is the arched bridge (#4) as it provides a nice balance to the collective bridge design by offering a bookend to the Daniel Carter Beard "Big Mac" Bridge to the east while also not coming across as trying to hard to be "architecturally distinctive."

Which design do you like best? And be sure to share your thoughts with Parsons Brinckerhoff by Friday, February 5 before they move forward and narrow the options down to the final three.

Options 4, 6, 7

Options 9, 10, 12

Click any of the images (provided by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls' office) to open larger version in new window


JaredB said...

My vote goes for the single tower, very unique and would add more to a view from the distance

Quimbob said...

ran this past a bridge designing e-friend in SF,
His reply:"The term butt-f*cking ugly comes to mind. All of them look like they were designed by architects that don't know a damn thing about bridge design. Too many of those damned Calatrava wanna-bees sell their crap to people buying bridges."
yeah, I think 12 & 4, too.

Venkman said...


That's funny, as an architect I was going to say they all look they were designed by a bridge engineer with no sense of aesthetic and terrible rendering skills. We need an architect like Calatrave to spice it up a bit.

Unknown said...

None of them stick out but I'm not sure that is such a bad thing. Whatever gets built is going to mostly be blocked from the view of DT/The Banks by Brent Spence and Clay Wade. I like option 4 the best. It provides a nice symmetrical book end effect with the Carter Beard. Cincinnati already has an iconic bridge anyway and it is in the perfect spot.

nasty said...

I have to say 4 is the best. The others look generic and I can't wrap my brain around 12, I just don't like it.

Tesch said...

Now, I'm no transportation planner, but it doesn't seem like any of the designs incorporate mixed transportation uses i.e. sidewalk and bike lanes separated via a divider. How feasible would such a inclusion be on a bridge like the Brent Spence?

Otherwise, I think reworking 12 to make it more aesthetically interesting. The Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam ( is one example that I think would also serve as a great gateway for people arriving into Cincinnati.

Randy Simes said...

Sidewalk and bike lanes on a major interstate bridge like this would be highly unlikely, but the old Brent Spence Bridge that will remain could be retrofitted to include these items since it will be turned into a local access bridge. This could also be done on the nearby Clay Wade Bridge that is rarely used as is.

The issue I have is the lack of inclusion for any future light rail right-of-way. When Cincinnati finally starts a regional rail transit network we are going to want to connect to Nky and the airport. It would seem to make most sense to plan for this now with this new bridge.

Dave Rolfes said...

I am a fan of 4 and 12 as well. The others kind of mimic what the Roebling does (the two tower concept & all) and she should stand on her own.

Randy, do you know what is going to happen to the old Brent Spence once the new bridge is completed?

Unknown said...

Option 12 would stick out like a sore thumb. It would probably tower, or at least appear to tower, over many key buildings DT.

Is it possible that Brent Spence could eventually be retrofitted to support light rail?

P-Newt said...

Wouldn't the C&O bridge (next to the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge) be the one to use for regional transit?

I know in Seattle the I-90 floating bridge in Seattle has a nice bike lane next to it, allowing cyclists to go from Seattle to Mercer Island. It is an intense ride and a memorable experience.

Randy Simes said...

I would think it would be very difficult if not impossible due to current safety regulations to use the C&O for regional transit since it already is used by freight rail and Amtrak service to Washington D.C.

Unknown said...

Is the map illustrating the approach to the new bridge on the Revive 75 homepage accurate? Will there really be that much land freed up west of Central Avenue?

Randy Simes said...


After further examination I don't think so. These bridge designs show the new bridge on the east side of Longworth Hall and adjacent to the existing Brent Spence Bridge, whereas the illustrations by UDA show the new bridge crossing the river west of Longworth Hall.

The bridge approach shown in the UDA illustrations would be ideal as it would expand Downtown by a dozen or so blocks and relieve the urban core of that major choke point right at a corner of Downtown that is trying to make things happen.

Interestingly enough, the UDA illustration also shows the proposed development over Cincinnati Union Terminal's parking lots, and it also shows a minor cap over Interstate 75 immediately east of CUT - both are items I sketched out as being ideal a couple years ago. Unfortunately I don't think the approach or the cap will actually happen.

Ron Tunning said...

My preference would be Option 4 as well, and quite frankly, all of the options would be improved if they'd simply remove the Brent Spence Bridge, which is an ugly monstrosity.

It seems to me, however, that any of the proposed designs are far superior to that dreadfully cheap and useless span that links Newport to Cincinnati, replacing the old Central Bridge. Perhaps that would be a better location for a cable-stayed design of smaller proportion.

I concur that whatever the design it should incorporate the capacity to handle at minimum, light rail, if not heavy rail. Given that an opportunity such as this comes along only every half-century or so, Cincinnati would be wise to get it right.

Andrew said...

@ron is correct... anything is going to look stupid unless they remove the old bridge.

i like any of them, to be honest... anything is better than the crap that's there now.

Nate said...

Randy: The fact that the amount of ramps clogging the Central Avenue area will not be reduced not a good sign, I have to agree. Your point about transportation right of ways could be due to a Covington interest in having the Metro Region Transit to the Airport stop on their side East of the new 71/75 bridge. In this case I could easily see them using the bottom Deck of the aging BSB.

Ron: Getting rid of any infrastructure would be a mistake. You may find the BSB ugly but as plans surface to make the double-decker a local traffic bridge, one could see Queensgate and Covington benefiting. It also would provide bike paths, pedestrian access, and Metro Rail solutions. If done correctly it would be better then the Purple People, and think about viewing the new bridge from the old, kinda cool.

I like #10 the angled poles are a lot cooler from the ground, the Golden Jubilee bridge comes to mind. It has angled poles and sits next to an aging iron truss bridge. Its one of my favorite pedestrian bridges (obviously of a smaller scale but still).

Tesch said...

@Randy: Depending on how such sidewalks/Class 1 bicycle lanes are planned, they could possibly be effective. I understand that the Brent Spence serves as a major highway bridge, but so does the George Washington Bridge in New York, which has sidewalks/bicycle lanes that people actually utilize. I'm from there and have seen it many times before. And the plans should definitely take into account the possibility for future expansion of light rail or even passenger rail service to CVG, it would make most sense.

Unknown said...

Bike/ped - If Cincy & Covington got together and planned bike/ped facilities on either side of the bridge, the feds would pretty much be required to provide a facility on the bridge. (See 23 U.S.C. §217 (e))

Design - I agree with those ^ that pointed out that it's going to be behind the existing BSB for most viewers anyway. From downtown, they each make for what looks like a horizontal mess when put behind the other bridges. I really don't like the three planes of cables that are required in 6, 7, 9, and 10. And the single tower one is too tall in proportion to surroundings. That leaves me with 4, I guess.

Anyone know if there is an actual *need* to select a bridge type now? Typically, NEPA studies evaluate a range of options in order to eliminate those that would have real visual impact. But unless there is a real reason (NHPA Sec 106) or a difference in resource impacts, they should be able to leave the decision to the final design team.

5chw4r7z said...

The only good thing I can think about #12 is it would mimic the spans across Ft Washington Way with their tower and cables. But I don't like it.
That leaves #4.
Why don't they just put a weight limit on the existing bridge, route everyone around 275.
It would help with congestion.

MoMo said...

My vote is for #4 - I like that it mimics the "Big Mac" bridge and I think it's the most visually exciting of all of the options.

mytincart said...

My favorites are options 9 and 10. The combination of the slanting towers and the cabling remind me of the Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston.

The cabling seems a nice homage to our city's Roebling Bridge, which Roebling had used as a template for the Brooklyn Bridge.

Mark Kinne said...

Ditto on the need to think about rail planning, as for pedestrian and walking C&O and the existing BSB will be able to accommodate them. Brasil also has some creative bridges I thought I'd share and

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