A program to replace or rehabilitate more than 1,000 bridges across Kentucky is picking up speed.
Under the Bridging Kentucky program, construction will begin for about 400 bridge projects this year alone, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. By June 30, 2020, the construction phase will begin for more than 460 bridge projects, including over 120 projects that will be expedited because of cost-saving and efficient approaches.
“We’re combining bridges that are in need of repair into groupings, where instead of a contractor bidding on one bridge at a time, we’re having them bid maybe four or five bridges at a time,” explained KYTC spokesman Keith Todd.
The overall goal of the program is to replace or rehabilitate more than 1,000 bridges across Kentucky by 2024. The cabinet said rehabilitation includes restoring structures, so bridges can be used by heavy vehicles, such as buses, commercial trucks and emergency vehicles.
There are many bridges in the Local 6 area that are scheduled to be worked on, including the bridge on South 24th Street in Paducah — which is to be replaced — and the bridge on Wadesboro Road west of Benton — which is to be rehabilitated. The latter has been closed since August last year because of structural issues.
“I know there is one family down here that they go to the doctor in Paducah a lot, and they’ve asked me several times on the progress we’re making,” Todd said about the bridge on Wadesboro Road. “Even this one that may have a low traffic count on it, it’s important to the people that live on the road. You know, maybe their mail carrier comes through here. Maybe they have farm products that they are hauling to market — livestock, grain, that kind of thing. So, all of these bridges are important to somebody, even the ones that are on roads that may only have a few hundred vehicles per day.”
Bridging Kentucky began in the middle of last year. Of the 1,000 bridges that will either be replaced or rehabilitated, there is at least one in each Kentucky County. In all, the bridges affect about 1 million vehicles every day.
So far, construction has begun on more than 70 bridge projects, and several bridges have already re-opened to drivers.