Kentucky Gets C- on Infrastructure Report Card

Feb 6, 2019

Credit Becca Schimmel

Kentucky earned a grade of C- in a new infrastructure report card from the state’s American Society of Civil Engineers. The state received a grade of C in the last infrastructure report card in 2011. Kentucky’s civil engineers looked at the Commonwealth’s aviation, roads, bridges, drinking and waste water and energy.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recently instituted a program to restore more than one thousand bridges across the state. The repairs are expected to extend the life of the bridges by 30 years. Tom Rockaway is the chair of Kentucky’s infrastructure report card committee.

“One of the takeaways for this whole report card is to help raise awareness of infrastructure,” he told WKU Public Radio. “We rarely think about it. It quietly does its job until something goes catastrophically wrong.”

Kentucky had one of its worst grades in the category of hazardous waste, a D, down one letter grade from 2011.  There are 3,000 entities creating hazardous waste in Kentucky. The top generators are chemical, metal, and plastic manufacturing facilities.

Rockaway said infrastructure appears to quietly do its job until something goes catastrophically wrong.

“We don’t think about the level of effort and engineering it takes to get some of these materials and products to our door,” he said. “We don’t think about the power being readily available at our house or having warm water when we take our showers. These things just happen.”

Rockaway said Kentucky’s infrastructure impacts everyone equally, and improving it would enhance the quality of life and economic viability in the state.  

The report says Kentucky’s rural communities will require significant funding to ensure access to clean drinking water. The state’s water service level is one of the highest in the country, yet there are still about 100,000 Kentuckians who lack access.

The report card suggests prioritizing infrastructure investment, coordinating with rural communities, and funding current and future needs for Kentucky’s multimodal freight network.