The Bluegrass State could see 1,300 road, bridge and transportation projects over the next six years under a transportation plan Gov. Andy Beshear released Wednesday.
Kentucky’s 2024 Recommended Highway Plan acts as a guide to prioritize projects and lays out how the state will invest state and federal transportation dollars. The plan focuses on three areas: maintaining roads and bridges; executing new contracts, including priority projects like the Brent Spence companion bridge; and honoring past contract commitments.
The Kentucky General Assembly is expected to enact the final highway plan on or before April 15.
“This plan blends data-informed recommendations and our values of taking care of our people by keeping roads and bridges safe for Kentucky families,” Beshear said in a press release. “It also includes funding to move forward on long-awaited, transformative projects that support a strong economy.”
The plan is based on revenue projections of $8.65 billion through 2030. According to the plan, federal-aid highway funds will cover $7.7 billion along with $950 million in anticipated state road fund revenues. In 2024, the Kentucky General Assembly will authorize funding for the first two years of the highway plan.
Kentucky owns and operates more than 9,000 bridges and 63,000 lane-miles of paved roads, making it the seventh-largest bridge system and eighth-largest pavement system in the nation. To keep those roads and bridges in top shape, the plan includes nearly $600 million in state and federal funding for pavement and bridge repairs.
The plan also includes $14.45 million to install 65 miles of guardrail across Kentucky. Nearly half of these roughly 200 projects are in eastern Kentucky, a part of the state with steep slopes and curvy roads. Beshear’s plan also proposes $5 million per year to repair rest areas and $10 million per year to expand truck parking at interstate rest areas.
Beshear’s state budget will complement the plan with $50 million in general funds to repair local bridges and $300 million for two notable projects, the Interstate 69 Ohio River Crossing and the Mountain Parkway extension.
The I-69 Ohio River Crossing Project will create a bridge that will connect Henderson, Kentucky, and Evansville, Indiana. Kentucky is working with Indiana to fund the remainder of the project, which comprises three phases. Construction on Phase 1 has already begun, and construction on Phase 2 will move forward in 2027 or sooner if federal grant funding is received.
Kentucky and Indiana have applied for $632 million in federal Multimodal Program Discretionary Grant (MPDG) and federal Bridge Investment Program (BIP) grant funding. Kentucky and Indiana are expected to know the results of the grant selection process in spring 2024.
The Mountain Parkway Expansion will connect the eastern part of Kentucky to the rest of the state. The multiyear project calls for widening and expanding the roadway to four lanes. Construction on a section from the city of Campton through Salyersville is currently under construction. State officials next want to expand the portion of the parkway that goes from Salyersville to Prestonsburg.
The project is expected to cost $403 million. Kentucky has allocated $117 million of matched federal funds and expects to use a combination of a significant federal grant, state general fund monies and bonds to finance the project.
The other notable project is the $3.3 billion Brent Spence Bridge Corridor, which will provide a companion bridge to the existing structure that spans the Ohio River into Cincinnati. The project will rework the bridge approaches on both sides of the river with a focus on freight activity. Kentucky will contribute $1.5 billion toward the project and a federal grant will cover $778 million of the costs. Kentucky will also have access to $150 million in state bonds to put toward the project.
Kentucky also requested $216 million in federal funding and will know the result of the grant selection process in early 2024.
Other projects in the plan include:
- Building an access road in McCracken County to the Ohio River Megapark
- Adding a four-lane U.S. Highway 27 from north of Lancaster to state Highway 34 in Garrard County.
- Reconstructing state Highway 115 near Pembroke to Interstate 24 in Christian County.
- Replacing the R.J. Corman railroad overpass on North Broadway in Fayette County.
- Widening Interstate 75 to six lanes at Corbin in Whitley and Laurel counties.
Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet