Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Independent Report Ranks Kentucky's Highway System Among Nation's Most Efficient

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, November 01, 2006  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Doug Hogan
Mark Brown

News reflects Governor Fletcher, Transportation Cabinet’s efforts to improve efficiency

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) have received good news about the administration’s efforts to improve the efficiency and the quality of Kentucky’s highway network.  A new independent report indicates the cabinet is managing one of the most cost-effective highway systems in the United States. 

“This report confirms that our policy changes are improving efficiency and allowing more money to be invested in important highway projects,” said Governor Fletcher.  “The bold changes I promised to bring to Frankfort are paying dividends. With sound management, we are providing needed infrastructure to build strong communities across our great state.”

Kentucky’s highway system is ranked seventh in the 15th Annual Performance of State Highway Systems report, published by the Reason Foundation.  The ranking is based on performance during 2004 and reflects a significant improvement from 2003 when Kentucky’s highway system ranked 15th.      

“Improvements that are outlined in this report do not magically happen,” stated Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert. “This news is a result of Governor Fletcher’s leadership and our steadfast commitment to improve efficiency and deliver better highways for Kentuckians.”

The annual report looks at cost versus effectiveness of highway systems in all 50 states.  Researchers compare state budgets (per mile of responsibility) with system performance to determine relative performance, upon which the rankings are based. 

“At 27,749 miles, the state highway system is the eighth-largest in the United States, but its budget is the 16th largest.  Within a generally tight budget climate, the state has managed to improve pavement conditions even as traffic has increased,” said David T. Hartgen, author of the Reason Foundation report and professor of transportation studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  “The Interstate and rural primary systems are in excellent condition with little or no poor-condition mileage.  However, bridge conditions, traffic congestion and fatal accident rates are major future challenges; if these problems can be efficiently addressed Kentucky stands a good chance of moving into our top-five states.”   

The Transportation Cabinet is already working to address future concerns, recently adding $100 million in additional funds to better maintain existing roads and bridges.  The cabinet is also taking a proactive lead to reduce traffic congestion across Kentucky.

With Governor Fletcher’s bold leadership, great strides are also being made to improve highway safety.  Earlier this year, Governor Fletcher championed three bills aimed at saving lives across Kentucky: primary seatbelt, graduated driver licensing, and quick clearance.  All three are now law.  Fatalities are at a five-year low, with approximately 70 fewer fatalities year-to-date than last year. 

Among the Transportation Cabinet’s most significant accomplishments since 2004:

  • Aggressive highway construction program, with an expected $3.2 billion total investment through 2007, approximately $1 billion investment projected in each of the next two years
  • More than $70 million in KYTC savings achieved by improved management practices, added to the road fund for projects
  • $150 million awarded to local governments for city street and county road improvements
  • 25 percent reduction in roads with poor pavement conditions
  • More than $75 million in savings generated by an improved change order process for state contracts
  • $66 million in personnel savings through more efficient utilization of resources

This latest rating from the Reason Foundation matches the state’s previous highest ranking, achieved in 1997.  It reflects significant improvement over Kentucky’s relatively low performance throughout the report’s 15-year history.

The full report is available online at