Tracking the safety of Kentucky bridges

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The Interstate 64 bridges crossing the Kentucky River in Franklin County are two of many across Kentucky classified as "structurally deficient". Transportation Cabinet officials say, while the bridges may require extra care, they're still safe to cross.

Of the thousands of state-maintained bridges here in Kentucky, Transportation Cabinet officials say about 7% of them have been labeled "structurally deficient".

"Section lost, cracking, deterioration," said David Steele, an engineer at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Others have been labeled "functionally obsolete", like the Brent Spence Bridge between Covington and Cincinnati. President Obama highlighted its problems in a campaign appearance in 2011.

"It's safe to drive on, but it was not designed to accommodate today's traffics, which can stretch out for a mile," Obama said at the event.

The Department of Transportation lists 88 national highway system bridges across the Commonwealth as "structurally deficient". 21 of the bridges are in Central Kentucky. Transportation Cabinet officials say hundreds more state, city, and county bridges are also deficient, but they say drivers shouldn't be concerned about safety.

"Structurally deficient is really a key term as far as appropriating federal funds for rehab and replacement. The bridges are still safe. If they were not safe, we would take the necessary steps to close them down or get them immediately repaired," said Steele.

Transportation Cabinet officials say, while cities and counties are responsible for maintaining their own bridges, the cabinet will shut them down if they're in bad enough shape. All bridges are required to be inspected at least once every two years.

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