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Armadas of trucks heading southeast from three major interstate highways all congregate in Cincinnati to cross the four southbound lanes of the Brent Spence. The bridge is part of a corridor that, according to a study, contains the second most congested truck bottleneck in the United States, behind Fort Lee, NJ, which houses an always-blocked interchange leading to the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan. .

“It’s all the trucks,” said Al Bernstein, who lives in Covington, the smallest town on the Kentucky side of the bridge, and whose wife refuses to cross it. “Local citizens – they are injured. But it is the trucks that are the cause.

A proposal that has been around for years would spend $ 2.6 billion to build a new, much wider bridge next to the Brent Spence, doubling the tracks.

The challenge of redesigning the bridge corridor is nothing new to political leaders in Kentucky, Ohio or Washington, where it has long been touted as a symbol of the country’s backward infrastructure needs. President Barack Obama delivered a speech at the bridge in 2011 as he presented a major jobs and public works plan. President Donald J. Trump has also promised to fix it.

“I remember when McConnell started growing up in Washington, we were like, ‘Oh, that’s great. We’re going to get more money from the federal government and we’re going to finish the bridge, ”said Paul Long, a resident on the Kentucky side of the river who“ would do everything I can to avoid ”crossing the bridge. “Then we had Boehner, who was Speaker of the House at the same time,” he added, referring to John A. Boehner, the 12-term retired congressman whose district was just sitting. north of Cincinnati. “People were thinking, ‘Yes, I will definitely do it now.’”

A conversation on a bridge that everyone wants to fix but no one ever does is a conversation about the dysfunction of modern politics itself. The debate over his fate quickly turns into a complaint about how dogmatic philosophies – like Republicans ‘general aversion to tax increases, or Democrats’ insistence on including an ambitious federal expansion of the safety net in their public works plan – have supplanted the subtle art of the back room. agreement.

Decades ago, such compromises were fueled in large part by so-called “earmarks,” which lawmakers could insert into legislation to direct federal money to their favorite projects. But the practice has come to be seen as a symbol of self-trafficking and waste as the anti-spending Tea Party swept the Republican Party, and after a string of scandals – including one that led to the lobbyist’s jail. Jack Abramoff – Congress banned it in 2011.

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