“The biggest issue in our country.” Commerce Chamber President talks infrastructure.

COVINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – It’s hard to find a solution when it comes to improving aging infrastructure.

Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Brent Cooper says that’s particularly true when it comes to the Brent Spence Bridge.

“We think this issue is the biggest issue in our country at the moment, especially coming out of the pandemic,” Cooper said. “I often joke that I’m the Charlie Brown of the Brent Spence Bridge. I’ve been talking about this for so long, and every time we think we got it done, Lucy pulls the football out from under us and we fall on our backs.”

Cooper says it’s an uphill, decades-long battle. He said that in his nearly four years as president, the bridge has either been closed completely, or reduced to only two lanes more than  25-percent of the time.

“That has huge economic impact and a whole slew of negative consequences for our region and the state,” Cooper said.

He said he hopes the bridge can get the facelift it needs within President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, but said unless the details are agreed on down the aisle, he can see that dream slipping away.

“The infrastructure piece that refers to broadband and that talks about high speed for our country, I think that’s important,” Cooper said.

He also said rail and mass transit should be a part of the bill, but disagreed with items like removing all lead pipes that carry drinking water.

“Focus on the stuff that is bipartisan and we can get a broad agreement on,” Cooper said.

On that same note, Cooper said it should be paid for by users. These are all things that would inch republican lawmakers, like Senator Mitch McConnell, closer to an agreement.

“If you break it up and have an infrastructure package and not a big tax increase and pay for it in a credible way,” McConnell said at a vaccination press conference on the University of Kentucky’s campus.

Cooper said if a solution can’t be reached, he’s worried about the future of infrastructure in the entire country.

“If you can’t get something that’s so obvious resolved, then the system’s broken.”

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