The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet produced a new six-year plan to maintain and improve infrastructure, but warned that its funding stream was short of what it would need to pay for priority projects.
KYTC Secretary Greg Thomas said in a Jan. 17 announcement that the plan, which would cover the six fiscal years starting July 1, "identifies projects that we are currently able to fund and offers a list of additional priority projects that should be addressed if additional revenue is available."
He added: "For every year repairs are delayed, 150 bridges drop into the poor condition category, further adding to the backlog of aging bridges and roads. When critical bridges are out of commission, it affects direct routes for school buses, emergency services, motorists and businesses moving freight. Devoting dollars to invest in asset management removes transportation barriers, preserves our infrastructure and supports the economy."
The KYTC also said that "without a funding increase, an estimated 6,000 miles will be added to the current $1 billion backlog of pavement repairs in the next six years."
The agency acted on a directive by Gov. Matt Bevin to use a data-driven process – called SHIFT for "Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow" – to prioritize use of limited federal and state funding for critical infrastructure projects.
Using it, the KYTC developed a list of priority projects that total $8.6 billion, but said its plan would allocate only $2.6 billion to them, leaving a gap of $6 billion in unfunded priority projects.
The agency said it projected revenue over the six years of "$6.6 billion in traditional state and federal highway dollars." Besides the SHIFT projects, it would allocate $2.3 billion for bridge and pavement improvements, $1.1 billion to federally directed spending (such as the Transportation Alternative Program and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program) and $600 million for debt-service payments on revenue anticipation bonds.
KYTC Deputy Secretary Paul Looney said that "while the SHIFT process has helped us identify a list of priority projects, the reality is that not all of them can move forward based on available funding. We need more revenue to complete more of these needed projects."
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