A persistent challenge to federal, state, and local government agencies is identifying economically viable methods to finance new infrastructure projects while maintaining the operation and functionality of existing roads, highways, and bridges. With shrinking transportation budgets, it is imperative for these agencies to stretch their dollars and maximize returns on investment. KTC’s Policy, Finance, and Economics research group has worked with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and with federal agencies such as the Federal Highway Administration and the United States Department of Transportation to understand the economic implications of policy proposals and emerging technologies, conduct financial data analysis, and examine legislative initiatives. Key research topics include a KYTC maintenance survey and budget analysis, legislation and policies related to autonomous vehicles, core competencies and risk management, cost-benefit analysis, and initial project estimates.

Learn More

Featured Project: Training Curricula for KYTC Department of Highways

With the bridge inventory of the United States rapidly aging, and departments of transportation lacking the financial resources to replace these structures, it is critical to identify and implement novel bridge preservation strategies. KTC’s Bridge Preservation research group works on questions related to the techniques and materials used to repair, reinforce, and preserve the structural elements of bridges. They have worked on numerous projects for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), and the Federal Highway Administration. Key research topics include the effectiveness of protective coatings for concrete and steel, spot painting techniques, remediating chloride damage on steel bridges, the use of nondestructive technologies to inspect bridges, and holistic bridge maintenance and preservation strategies to prolong service lives.

Evaluation of KYTC’s Maintenance Rating Program (MRP)

Uses statistical measures to evaluate the condition of highway infrastructure. Customer surveys evaluating the Cabinet’s performance on maintenance activities determine which assets are measured and how they are weighted in the final score. KTC researchers are reviewing the current data collected as well as scoring targets, and comparing to asset management and performance management initiatives. This project will help the Cabinet prioritize maintenance activities and assist them with condition assessment and inventory collection to identify asset needs.

Review of Initial Project Estimates for Design, Right of Way, and Utilities

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) currently uses a variety of methods to develop initial project estimates for design, right of way, utilities, and construction. This often results in inconsistent and inaccurate budgeting estimates. This project helped create uniformity among the various methods used to develop initial estimates and enhanced the current estimating tools for all parties involved. The work was done in collaboration with Project Development.

Policy, Finance & Economics Faculty & Staff

Bryan Gibson

Program Manager



Gayle Marks

Research Associate



Candice Wallace

Senior Research Scientist



Additional Research

  • Project Manager’s Boot Camp – A collaboration between SPI and PD
  • A Review of KY’s Extended Weight Hauling Programs
  • Analysis of Truck Weight Limit Regulations
  • Process Analysis for Disposal of Surplus Property
  • Maintenance Overview and Budget Analysis 2018
  • Maintenance Field Operations Guide Manual
  • 2020 KYTC Maintenance Customer Survey
  • Analysis and Assessment of the Reimbursement Rates and Mechanisms for KY’s Publicly Funded Ferries
  • Identification and Preservation of Core Competencies and Risk Management (In Progress, collaboration with Project Development)
  • Best Practices for Performance Measurement in Transportation Maintenance and Operations (In Progress)
  • Bridge Project Prioritization (In Progress, collaboration with Bridge Preservation)
  • Best Practices for Recruitment and Retention of Transportation Professionals (In Progress, collaboration with Special Projects and Initiatives)
  • Extended Weight Systems Pavement Analysis (In Progress)