A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Bridging Kentucky: More than 1000 bridges across state will be restored over next six years

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The first step in a massive project to restore more than 1,000 bridges in Kentucky over the next six years is underway.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the Bridging Kentucky program is currently laying the groundwork for 2019 to be one of the busiest bridge-building years in the state’s history.

Since the program was launched in June, teams have evaluated more than 1,100 bridges, according to the Cabinet, with priorities based on need and cost-effective solutions. Twelve bridges have entered the construction phase, with rehab and replacement work underway or about to start. This fall, more than a dozen additional bridges will begin construction.

This Scott County bridge is being restored as part of Bridging Kentucky. (Transportation Cabinet photo)

A dozen improvement projects are in the construction phase in Garrard, Jefferson, Johnson, Kenton, Laurel, Madison, Metcalfe, Pike, Scott and Union counties, and the first of these projects will be completed this fall. In the coming months, additional bridge projects will move to construction in Breathitt, Casey, Hardin, Harlan, Jefferson, Kenton, Knott, Madison, Mason, Metcalfe, Muhlenberg and Washington counties.

Site assessments, which began this week, will continue at hundreds of bridges over the next few months. During these onsite evaluations, design engineers, environmental experts and surveyors will collect information needed for bridge design and construction. This work will not cause significant disruptions to traffic, but drivers should use caution when they see bridge workers.

“It’s been a busy few months getting the program off the ground, and it’s time to start restoring the bridges that connect the Commonwealth,” said Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas. “Communities across the state will soon begin to see the benefits of this transformational program as we reopen bridges and reduce weight limitations that have affected school buses, emergency vehicles and many other travelers.”

The estimated cost of around $700 million over six years was put in the budget by Gov. Matt Bevin and approved by the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly, and includes state, county and municipal bridges that have fallen into disrepair and are rated in poor condition. More than 60 of them are currently closed to traffic.

The state hopes to start or complete construction on more than 300 bridges in the first two years of the program, focusing first on those identified as priorities by the General Assembly in the transportation budget.

“It should be the busiest year of major bridge rehab and replacement projects in the history of the Transportation Cabinet,” said Royce Meredith, KYTC’s Bridging Kentucky Program Manager.

“This is more than three times the number of bridges we traditionally undertake construction on during a given year. The 2019 season will set the stage to get all 1,000 bridges to construction by 2024.” 

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