The update on the Bridging Kentucky initiative was given by Kentucky Transportation Cabinet official Royce Meredith during testimony this week to the state’s Interim Joint Committee on Transportation.

Bridging Kentucky will allow the state to tackle more than three times as many bridge projects as years past. Kentucky transport officials plan to spend US$700 million to repair or replace 1,000 bridges in six years, despite a forecast of stagnant growth in the pot of money used to pay for projects. There is US$340 million earmarked for nearly 350 bridges in the state’s current two-year budget. “It is one of the most aggressive bridge rehab and replacement programmes in the country,” said Meredith.

He added that the programme is large and broad. “It includes structures in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties with a mix of bridges in rural and urban areas,” he said.

State transportation officials, highway engineers and consultants are currently screening Kentucky’s more than 14,000 bridges using detailed analytics and calculations for the life-cycle costs of rehabilitation verse replacement. Meredith said the evaluations should be completed this month and will be followed by a series of industry forums this autumn.

“We’re not going to rehab a bridge that should be replaced, and we’re not going to replace a bridge that should be rehabbed,” Meredith said. “Right now it appears about 30 percent of these bridges can be rehabbed.”

He said the bridge construction projects are being prioritized based on budget, construction of the structure and project challenges. The number of vehicles using the bridge is among the multitude of other factors being considered, he added.