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A Citizens Guide to Kentucky Infrastructure

Posted by Content Coordinator on Thursday, May 25th, 2017


Kentucky is in a prime spot — within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the nation’s population. That makes the Commonwealth a key site for industries needing to transport products across the country. In fact, University of Kentucky economists report more than a quarter of the state’s economy is made up of industries highly dependent on transportation. National surveys of corporate executives rank highway accessibility as the top factor in business location decisions. All of that means transportation infrastructure maintained in top condition is a key requirement for a healthy economy

Of course, transportation is just one part of the infrastructure that keeps Kentucky working, producing and growing. This review takes a look at the current condition of the state’s various infrastructure elements, such as highways, bridges, riverports, utilities and broadband, and identifies needs that would strengthen the state’s structural backbone in key areas. Here’s a quick rundown, followed by more detailed information.

Kentucky Key Facts

Kentucky’s budget is under pressure – from public pension, Medicaid costs and other programs – so money will be hard to come by to address these critical infrastructure problems. But there is a way to make progress.

The Kentucky Chamber calls for the aggressive use of the state’s new public private partnership (P3) law to leverage private-sector investments to expand and maintain the infrastructure essential to the economic growth of the Commonwealth.


Infrastructure is broadly defined as physical capital investments that support a community and its economy. Government traditionally finances such infrastructure projects as roads and bridges, while the private sector generally supports others, such as electric utilities and telecommunications.

The importance of infrastructure to the lives and livelihoods of citizens is reflected in the strong public support for government spending on such projects. A March 2016 Gallup poll found 75% of Americans favored spending more federal money to improve infrastructure (including roads, buildings and waterways).

Infrastructure–especially roads, bridges and airports–is particularly important to Kentucky’s economy because of the Commonwealth’s prime location. As the Cabinet for Economic Development notes, Kentucky sits at the center of a 34-state distribution area in the eastern United States. This facilitates the distribution of “goods and materials to a massive industrial and consumer market.”

In addition, Kentucky is the nation’s third largest automotive producing state and is home to major logistics companies. This makes quality infrastructure critical to the success of the Commonwealth’s business community and to the health and growth of its economy.

Many of the factors that affect the state’s prospects for economic prosperity can be subject to change. But there is one certainty the state can count on year after year, regardless of taxes or workforce or regulatory environment or anything else:

Kentucky - location location location

About the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
From its beginnings more than 65 years ago, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has evolved into the premier business association in the state. Today, the Kentucky Chamber represents 3,800 member businesses – from family-owned shops to Fortune 500 companies – that employ over half of the Commonwealth’s workforce.

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