State program targets bridges

Jonathan Wright - [email protected]
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VANCEBURG — A number of bridges in Lewis County have been selected for repairs by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s for a new bridge program.

Bridging Kentucky is a statewide program that plans to rehabilitate or replace more than 1,000 bridges throughout the state. The initiative plans to, over a six year period, “reopen closed bridged, remove weight restriction that prevent use by school buses, emergency vehicles and businesses and improve access and mobility for all Kentuckians,” according to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin.

According to the statement issued by the KYTC, this program is one of the most aggressive bridge rehabilitation and replacement programs in the nation. Over the first two years alone, the Bridging Kentucky team will begin working on nearly 400 bridges, officials said.

Lewis County Judge-Executive Todd Ruckel said four bridges in Lewis County are included in the initial project.

“It’s in the budget,” Ruckel said.

The estimated investment of approximately $700 million over six years is the result of a data-driven, priority-setting approach led by Bevin and backed by the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly. This list of critical structures includes state, county and municipal bridges that have fallen into disrepair and are rated in poor condition. More than 60 of those bridges currently are closed to traffic.

“For decades, Kentucky has failed to properly maintain its bridges. The deferred maintenance cost is now measured in billions of dollars. When elected, I promised to address this issue, and that is exactly what we are doing. This is what responsible government looks like,” Bevin said. “Repairing and reopening closed bridges will reestablish vital routes for school buses, emergency vehicles and the hard-working men and women who make Kentucky great. We are cleaning up years of neglect. Much work remains to be done, but we are excited by the progress we are making.”

A list of bridges that will be part of the project is still being selected, according to KYTC spokesperson Allen Blair.

Summer and fall of this year are dedicated to identifying cost effective, time saving approaches to address prioritized structures. Late fall is when construction work is expected to begin.

More information regarding the Bridging Kentucky program can be found by visiting bridgingkentucky.com.

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Jonathan Wright

[email protected]