The Replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge: Tolls, Commuting Patterns and Economic Activity in Northern Kentucky

In this report, we investigate the impact of proposed tolls levied on users of the replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge, including impacts on commuting patterns and overall economic activity in Northern Kentucky. Overall, consistent with economic literature, the economic impact of the improved bridge will be positive and the toll, while slightly mitigating that impact, is likely to have only small effects on commuting patterns, trucking and retail and food service industries.

  • We estimate that the net impact of the new bridge and the toll under our estimated likely scenarios would reduce commuter traffic by less than 2%, and possibly increase traffic by 1%.
  • We estimate that the net impact of the new bridge and the toll under our likely scenarios would decrease trucking by less than 3% for trips made over the bridge: only a portion of overall trucking in the region.
  • Our results suggest that while there may be some over-river shopping in Northern Kentucky, there are also consumers in Northern Kentucky shopping in Cincinnati: while the toll may reduce trips, it is unlikely to have an impact on retail or accommodation and food service in the region.
  • We were also asked to investigate the impact of the Davis-Bacon act on the overall cost of the bridge. We find that the construction costs may be 10 to 15% higher due to Davis-Bacon wage requirements.