With a renewed focus on safety and protecting critical transportation assets, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is launching Bridging Kentucky – a statewide bridge program that will rehabilitate or replace more than 1,000 bridges.
Bridging Kentucky is one of the nation’s most aggressive bridge rehabilitation and replacement programs. It represents a transformational commitment by the Cabinet to prioritize investments to improve the safety and soundness of bridges across the Commonwealth. Over the first two years of the six-year program alone, the Bridging Kentucky team will begin rehabilitating or replacing nearly 400 bridges.
The estimated investment of approximately $700 million over six years is the result of a data-driven, priority-setting approach led by Gov. Matt Bevin and backed by the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly. This list of critical structures includes state, county and municipal bridges that have fallen into disrepair and are rated in poor condition. More than 60 of those bridges currently are closed to traffic.
“For decades, Kentucky has failed to properly maintain its bridges. The deferred maintenance cost is now measured in billions of dollars. When elected, I promised to address this issue, and that is exactly what we are doing. This is what responsible government looks like,” said Gov. Bevin. “Repairing and reopening closed bridges will reestablish vital routes for school buses, emergency vehicles and the hard-working men and women who make Kentucky great. We are cleaning up years of neglect. Much work remains to be done, but we are excited by the progress we are making.”
Statewide initiative to have immediate impact
The Bridging Kentucky program will address bridges in each of Kentucky’s 120 counties. KYTC has assembled an experienced program team of engineers and professionals to identify and develop cost-effective, time-saving approaches to rehabilitate or replace bridges currently rated in poor condition.
The team has begun evaluating and prioritizing improvements of more than 1,000 bridges, focusing first on bridge projects approved in the state’s biennium spending plan. Following the evaluation process, the Bridging Kentucky team will develop plans to quickly implement improvements, allowing construction on some structures to begin later this year.
“Kentuckians will not have to wait long to see tangible impacts from this innovative bridge program,” said KYTC Secretary Greg Thomas. “Our team will work quickly and thoughtfully to evaluate and schedule these bridges – with active construction beginning on some later this year. Working with legislators over the next six years, all 1,000 bridges identified for rehabilitation or replacement will be either completed or under construction by 2024.”
With significant transportation needs and limited transportation dollars, the focus of the Bridging Kentucky program is to improve the condition and lifecycle of existing bridges. Additional revenues will be needed to add lanes or build new roads and bridges, an issue for continued discussion by policy leaders.
As part of its evaluation process, the Bridging Kentucky team will determine the appropriate approach to address each bridge’s needs. In many cases, the team can cost-effectively add at least 30 years of life to bridges through repairs and improvements. Where a full replacement is appropriate, the team will design and build new bridges with at least 75 years of useful life.
Learn more about the program
Bridging Kentucky has launched a website and social media channels to share additional information about the program and evaluation process. The site, BridgingKentucky.com, provides an overview of the program, a list of frequently asked questions and an initial list of bridges that will be addressed in the first two years. Additional structures will be added to this list as the bridge evaluation process continues, and additional information will be shared as the new program advances.