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McConnell, Grimes announce competing bridge plans

Associated Press

FORT MITCHELL - Kentucky's U.S. Senate candidates announced competing plans Friday to replace the decaying Brent Spence Bridge in a conservative enclave of northern Kentucky that could figure prominently in the November election.

The 50-year-old bridge carries traffic from I-71 and I-75 along one of the busiest commercial shipping routes in the United States. The Federal Highway Administration has labeled the bridge "functional obsolete" for its narrow lanes that often snarl traffic between Cincinnati and northern Kentucky.

But state and federal lawmakers have been fighting over how to pay for the bridge. While state lawmakers had no problem authorizing tolls of between $1 and $12 for Louisville drivers to pay for their $2.3 billion bridge project spanning the Ohio River, northern Kentucky lawmakers have steadfastly refused to authorize tolls for the Brent Spence Bridge.

They argue more people commute to Cincinnati from Kentucky than vice versa, so Kentucky drivers would pay for most of the cost of the bridge.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell told the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Friday he wants to pay for the bridge by repealing a 1931 federal law that sets prevailing wages for federal contractors. McConnell said the Davis-Bacon Act artificially inflates labor costs for federal projects.

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