DOT: 31 Percent of Kentucky's Bridges Are Structurally Deficient or Obsolete

Jul 10, 2015

The US 68/KY 80 Lake Barkley Bridge at Canton
Credit KYTC

As part of its efforts to get Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill, the U.S. Department of Transportation has released an “infrastructure snapshot” that paints a grim portrait of Kentucky’s roads and bridges.

According to the fact sheet, more than 31 percent of Kentucky’s 14,116 bridges are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The snapshot also highlights an American Society of Civil Engineers report that says driving on roads in need of repair costs Kentucky drivers $543 million dollars a year - or $185 per driver - in vehicle repairs and operating costs.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe says Kentucky is not unique in its problem of having more infrastructure needs than money to pay for them.

“The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is daily in the position of having to manage its money and be keenly aware of its priorities - and priorities can change," Wolfe said."

The federal Highway Trust Fund expires at the end of this month. The U.S. Department of Transportation is championing its GROW America Act, a six-year, $478 billion spending plan.

Wolfe says even if such an authorization is passed, the money for infrastructure needs will first have to be raised at the state level.

“When you talk about federal funding, federal funding is reimbursement," Wolfe said. "The state has to spend the money first and then get reimbursed from the Federal Highway Administration. It’s not up-front money. That's just the way the system works.”

Wolfe said a long-running issue with the Highway Trust Fund is the fact that the federal motor fuels tax, on which the trust fund is based, has not been amended since 1993.

For a breakdown of all 50 states' infrastructure snapshots provided by the DOT, click here.