More than 1,000 bridges across Kentucky are in need of repair and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is working to fix them through a new program called Bridging Kentucky.
The program, which targets bridges in desperate need of maintenance, has identified bridges in all 120 counties in the Commonwealth — including 10 in Daviess County.
According to the KYTC, the program focuses on improving safety and mobility. The Bridging Kentucky team will continue to monitor and evaluate bridges throughout the state to prioritize needs.
Keith Todd, KYTC District 2 spokesperson, said, in the 14 years he has been with the department, approximately 10 percent of the state’s bridges are deemed either structurally deficient or in obsolete condition.
“When we start talking about bridges people think of the Blue Bridge in Owensboro or the Twin Bridges in Henderson — they think big bridges,” Todd said. “We have far more smaller bridges in our system on rural and secondary highways that we have to monitor. They are actually more of a challenge than the larger bridges as far as keeping everything maintained — it’s a constant effort.”
Todd said he gets asked all the time, “if you are constantly repairing and replacing bridges why does the number (of bridges that need to be fixed) not go down?”
“While we might be working on one bridge that needs attention right away, two or three miles down the road another bridge will be approaching the end of its lifespan,” he said. “A bridge ages out and another is coming onto the list.”
In line with the state’s prioritization efforts, the KYTC is using a data-driven approach that focuses primarily on improving safety, preserving existing infrastructure and spending tax dollars wisely.
“Our philosophy is we are not going to replace a bridge that can rehabbed,” Todd said.
A bridge that has been rehabbed will last for about 30 years. A brand new bridge has a lifespan of approximately 70-80 years.
According to the KYTC hundreds of site evaluations started this fall and they will be prepared to move forward with a wave of construction next year. The state’s plan is to start or complete construction on more than 300 bridges in the first two years of the program – focusing first on bridges identified as priorities by the Kentucky General Assembly.
“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 in a press release. “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.”
An interactive map displaying all of the bridges on the list along with information about each structure can be found at bridgingkentucky.com/bridges/.