Bridge work the focus of Kentucky’s $6 billion proposed highway plan

Better Roads, 29 January 2016
Chris Hill

Kentucky Gov. Matthew Bevin this week released his administration’s 2016 Recommended Highway Plan that details transportation projects and funding for fiscal years 2016-2022, representing $6 billion in “traditional revenues.”

But one key takeaway from the plan was an effort to focus on bridge repairs by setting aside 15 percent of the available state highway funds for “taking better care of our bridges.”

The 208-page plan, available here, outlines projects to be completed and methodologies for financing.

The $6 billion figure comes from a combination of federal and state highway project funding from fiscal year 2017 to 2022 at $5.2 billion, with the remaining funding coming from carry-over state and federal funding from fiscal year 2016.

By category, here are the anticipated program funding level and sources over the plan’s timeframe for the $5.2 billion figure:

  • Federal-aid National Highway System: $1.4 billion
  • Federal-aid Surface Transportation Program: $1.1 billion
  • State construction funds expected to be available: $713.9 million
  • Federal-aid Interstate Maintenance: $669 million
  • Federal-aid bridge replacement: $479.9 million
  • Federal Safety Program Funds: $277.9 million
  • State match for federal program: $246.1 million
  • Federal Appalachian Highways Funds: $168.5 million
  • Federal-aid congestion mitigation: $84.1 million
  • Local match for federal program: $73.2 million

Bridge replacement work in the Federal Surface Transportation Program will total $591.4 million, with rehabilitation funds coming from various other programs. “By increasing state and federal expenditures for basic bridge maintenance and repair, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) will take better care of our bridges throughout their entire life cycle ensuring reliability for the traveling public,” the report states.

A key point made in the plan narrative is an effort to “even out” delivery of the construction program to maintain a level of lettings. This effort is designed to eliminate avoid wild swings of expenditures and the impact that has on the state’s construction industry.

For example, the report highlights that highway project awards in the state hit $1 billion in 2006, spiked to $1.5 billion the following year, then dropped to $408 million in 2008.

“Although it is incredibly difficult to achieve, it is imperative for adequate industry competition and for competitive construction prices that the KYTC work to establish a sustainable level of construction awards into the future,” according to the report.

“The people of Kentucky deserve a highway construction industry that is capable of surviving economic downturns, and a consistent, coherent highway program is the best assurance that our highway infrastructure will be adequately maintained and improved into the next decade. Our goal is to target regular annual lettings to provide not only for the current year but succeeding years as well, working toward $1 billion in regular annual construction lettings over a sustained period of time. Through this strategy, we help to sustain jobs and help keep this sector of Kentucky’s economy healthy.”

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