Bridging Kentucky Program: An Asset Management Based Programmatic Solution
to a Statewide Challenge By Tony Hunley, PE, SE, PhD
The Bridging Kentucky Program is reaping major rewards in the Ken- tucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) initiative to improve the safety and soundness of the Commonwealth’s bridges and reduce the number of bridges with weight restrictions or rated in poor condition. Maintaining and improving Kentucky’s inventory of more than 14,000 aging bridges is a big task, which grows larger each year.As of mid-2018, Kentucky had more than 1,100 structures with posted weight restrictions or National Bridge Inventory (NBI) ratings of 4 (poor) or below. Bridges in the state were receiving substandard ratings faster than they could be repaired or replaced. Most of these substandard structures were smaller bridges owned by county governments and other local agencies that could not afford to fix them. To respond to this growing need, KYTC launched Bridging Kentucky in 2018, one of the most aggressive bridge preservation and replacement programs in the country. It was developed with a goal of rehabilitating, repairing, or replacing critical bridges across the state, and is designed to reopen closed structures, ensure structures meet appropriate weight capacities, and extend the lifespan of bridges. With significant transportation needs and limited transportation dollars, the team is focused on improving the condition and lifecycle of existing bridges. The structures in the program are smaller, mostly rural bridges spread across every region of Kentucky. On average, these bridges are 18.5-feet wide by 60-feet long, around 60 percent are locally owned by counties or agencies, and they have an average daily traffic of less than 900 vehicles. In many cases, the team is cost-effectively adding at least 30 years of life to the bridges through repairs and improvements. Where a full replacement is appropriate, the team is designing bridges for at least a 75-year design life. Program management approach InApril 2018, a general engineering consultant team, led by Stantec, was selected to partner with KYTC and assist in the planning, development, management, delivery, and oversight of the transportation program. To take on a transformational bridge program, Stantec along with partners QK4 and AECOM assembled a large and diverse team of 23 consultants. The team works in collaboration with various divi- sions within KYTC, integrated into design and construction teams, and with cabinet staff performing program management leadership, bridge design, geotechnical engineering, bridge hydraulics, surveying, right-of-way acquisition, design-build oversight, communications, and construction administration. At its peak of delivery, the program had 24 design teams working on multiple bridge projects concurrently.
Breathitt County, before
Breathitt County, after
To deliver a program of this magnitude within this timetable and bud- get, it was apparent that there had to be a way to streamline certain activities. The team started by working with the KYTC, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and stakeholder agencies to evalu- ate every aspect of project development, construction procurement, contracting methods, and construction administration to determine streamlined approaches focused on efficiency. The result was a Pro - gram Charter executed between KYTC and FHWA that detailed tools and techniques the program team would leverage to deliver the pro- gram, and clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of all parties. The Program Charter is a living document that reflects the continuous evolution and refinement that the program has undergone. While many of the early processes and procedures have worked well to stream- line execution and reduce project development delivery time and cost, KYTC and the program team have continuously evaluated and modified approaches for maximum efficiency. One key to managing such a massive and broad undertaking is a laser focus on continuous improvement and reacting to lessons learned. For Bridging Kentucky, this often meant incorporating improvements across dozens of active design projects and contract packages already submitted for construc- tion procurement in a matter of days.
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