Friday Fact Check: The "Most Dangerous Bridge" Myth

Whoops: Cincinnati Enquirer Makes Data Error; Pro-toll Coalition Repeats Error for More than a Decade.

 

For more than a decade the pro-toll coalition has been spreading misinformation based on a flawed report regarding the safety of the Brent Spence Bridge. Yesterday they did it again.

The Flawed Report and the Spread of Misinformation:

The error came from a report released by the Cincinnati Enquirer. In the report, the Enquirer compared data from 15 functionally obsolete bridges and found that of those bridges the Brent Spence ranked #7.

2003: “This is the Brent Spence Bridge - one of the most hazardous bridges in the nation, The Enquirer has found.” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/21/03]

This error has been repeated by elected officials, multiple news outlets, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, and the Build Our Bridge Now Coalition. In some instances the report has been misinterpreted to say that the Brent Spence Bridge has been ranked "the 7th most dangerous bridge in the country."

Fact vs. Fiction

Why is the report flawed? Because the report did not compare the Brent Spence to all bridges in the country or the 15 most dangerous bridges in the country. The report was limited to a sample of 15 interstate bridges that carry more than 145,000 vehicles a day, are classified functionally obsolete, and are longer than 1/4 mile.

Put simply: The data does not show that the Brent Spence Bridge is “one of the most hazardous bridges in the nation.”

What does the data say? The data merely says of the 15 interstate bridges deemed functionally obsolete that are longer than one-quarter mile and carry more than 145,000 vehicles per day the Brent Spence Bridge ranks #7 in crashes per lane mile. That is all it says.

No study has ever determined that that the Brent Spence is “one of the most hazardous bridges in the nation” or “ranked the 7th most dangerous bridge in the country.”


get updates