Coinciding with National Infrastructure Week, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce today released “A Citizen’s Guide to Kentucky Infrastructure,” a report detailing the critical condition of much of the state’s infrastructure and suggested solutions to the issues facing the state.
Most Kentuckians probably think little about infrastructure until they hit a big pothole – a jarring reminder of the importance of well-maintained highways.
Beyond the impact on individuals, transportation is a vital element affecting the Kentucky’s prospects for economic prosperity: The state is within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the nation’s population, making it a key site for industries that need to transport products across the country. “A Citizen’s Guide to Kentucky Infrastructure,” takes a look at the current condition of such infrastructure elements as highways, bridges, riverports, utilities and broadband, water and wastewater, and others. It also identifies what is needed to strengthen the state’s structural backbone in key areas.
When it comes to roadways, as much as 8% across the state and 16% of major urban thoroughfares are considered in poor condition and we almost double the naitonal average on narrow roadways. According to the report, the annual cost to motorists of road congestion, vehicle operating costs due to poor roads and inadequate safety features: $4 billion a year. Kentucky ranks 19th nationally in the number of deficient bridges with repair costs estimated at $2 billion.
Statewide infrastructure needs over the next 20 years for drinking water come in at an estimated $6.2 billion; wastewater infrastructure is a little higher at an estimated at $6.24 billion. Those numbers weren’t surprising to Glasgow Water Company General Manager Scott Young. For the upcoming fiscal year, the Glasgow Water Company will spend $10.4million on their capital improvements:
Not only does aging infrastructure need to replaced, but capacity must also be increased to be able to continue to meet demand. Young says that if the GWC doesn’t invest back in their infrastructure at some point there will be a failure:
Young said that despite the large amount of money they are putting into improvements, last year the GWC had the 8th least expensive water rates in the state.
The report notes that Kentucky’s state budget is under pressure – from public pensions, Medicaid costs and other programs – making money hard to come by to address critical infrastructure problems.