The Tristate fell victim to a FONSI scheme on the Brent Spence Bridge

I-275 through Northern Kentucky

The Federal Highway Administration ignored years of advocacy by the Sierra Club Miami Group and other ongoing activism by other concerned citizens groups by issuing a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the massive Brent Spence Bridge project that will add a 10-lane companion bridge to the current bridge, doubling highway traffic over the Ohio River.

The Miami Group submitted lengthy comments earlier this year documenting the public health and ecological risks of the greatly expanded highway network in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky as well as the environmental justice impacts to residents in the Tristate and those living closest to the highways.

In its FONSI, the highway officials declared “The Proposed Action is also not believed to have significant negative impacts on public health or safety. In evaluation and during public engagement, the project team did not identify any concerns unique to environmental justice (EJ) populations. The comments received did not express any concerns unique to EJ communities.”

This last comment was especially disturbing, because we clearly identified risks to the elderly and the low-income residents who can’t afford cars to get to work or needed services, and we provided extensive scientific documentation of the well-known risks of air pollution to under-represented minorities. We also cited numerous studies demonstrating the higher accident rates associated with the diverging/converging traffic patterns that will be associated with the bridge and pointed out that the Ohio Department of Transportation was well aware of the ecological risks from the tire additive 6PPD which is converted into the highly toxic 6PPD-quinone in the environment.

We remain concerned that plans to deal with highway runoff do not adequately address the toxics found in the runoff and that the proposed used of a 150-old McLean sewer to receive the runoff is an ill-conceived plan that could lead to major financial impacts on MSD rate-payers.

Is it too late to do something? We hope not. This is an election year, and you can speak out to your representatives in Congress and locally to make sure the “progressive design-build” plans incorporate sufficient safeguards to protect human health and our environment. You might even suggest shrinking the bridge back to a reasonable size and sending the extra funds to Baltimore which desperately needs to rebuild the damaged Francis Scott Key Bridge. Reach out to Chris Curran, Miami Group Vice Chair for more information at [email protected].

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