At a campaign stop in 2016, candidate Trump promised help for 'obsolete' Ohio River bridge. Did he deliver?

Hannah K. Sparling, USA TODAY
·2 min read

In 2016, just four days before the election, then-candidate Donald Trump talked about Cincinnati’s ailing Brent Spence Bridge during a campaign rally in Wilmington, Ohio, promising help.

The promise was vague, but Trump said he would cancel payments to the United Nations and use the money instead for projects like improving Interstate 71 and replacing the Brent Spence Bridge, which spans the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky.

The $2.5 billion bridge project has been at the top of Cincinnati’s to-do list for years, but no one seems to know how to get it done, largely because of the price tag.

The bridge handles more than double the traffic load for which it was designed in 1963. It’s a regular traffic choke point and has been labeled “functionally obsolete.”

View of the Brent Spence Bridge, carrying Interstate 75 traffic from Ohio into Kentucky, Friday, June 19, 2020, in Cincinnati.
View of the Brent Spence Bridge, carrying Interstate 75 traffic from Ohio into Kentucky, Friday, June 19, 2020, in Cincinnati.

What Trump said about the bridge

During that campaign rally, Trump called the Brent Spence Bridge “critical to the region.”

He said he would take money from the United Nations “and we will use that money to invest in America.”

Here’s a full transcript of what Trump said regarding the bridge:

“We will cancel billions of dollars in global warming payments to the United Nations. By the way, nobody even knows what happens to that money. I could tell you, I have some pretty good idea(s), but nobody even knows what happens. And we will use that money to invest in America. That includes projects like improving Interstate 71 (inaudible). Does anybody like that idea? You gotta like it a lot, otherwise, let’s save the money. You know, we owe $20 trillion, OK? Do you like the idea of improving the interstate? I mean, it’s not exactly, you’re not thrilled by it. Let’s not do it, to hell with it. Let’s save the money. And replacing the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati – you like that? –which is critical to the region. You like that one better. You know, we should do that – before we do a project, have a big rally. How do you like doing the interstate? People go, ‘eehhhhh.’ How do you like doing the bridge? Oh, we love it. It’s not a bad way, actually.”

What Trump did once elected

The Brent Spence Bridge was No. 2 on a Trump administration list of 50 transportation priorities, but nothing ever came of it.

The Trump campaign was quick to say the priority list was not an official policy document. And today, the bridge sits just as it was when Trump made that campaign speech in Wilmington – old, overused and awaiting a $2.5 billion savior.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in Wilmington, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in Wilmington, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump promised help for Brent Spence Bridge on Ohio River. None came.