The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) manages over 27,500 miles of the state’s roadways and is responsible for preserving many assets in a good state of repair, including bridges, traffic signals, lighting features, traffic signs, and guardrails. The Cabinet’s Maintenance function, which encompasses maintenance (e.g., patching potholes, repainting roadway lines and markings, cleaning bridges, mowing) and operations (e.g., plowing and salting roadways; keeping signs, traffic signals, and roadway signals functional), had a budget in FY 2018 of roughly $350 million. This report describes core maintenance functions and reviews their importance for preserving Kentucky’s roadway network and analyzes trends in KYTC’s maintenance budget. Among the maintenance issues explored are potholes; guardrails, signs, and striping; roadside vegetation; and winter operations (i.e., snow and ice removal). Without adequate maintenance funding, pressing maintenance issues are sometimes left unattended, which has negative consequences for the entire transportation network. Time trend analysis of KYTC’s maintenance budget indicates that inflation has reduced the purchasing power of funding allocated for maintenance activities. Forecasts suggest that its purchasing power will continue to decline through FY 2022. Winter maintenance operations, which vary significantly in scope and expense from year to year, can apply significant pressure to the Cabinet’s maintenance budget. In years with particularly severe winters, some maintenance activities are deferred because of the high cost of snow and ice removal. Accordingly, a starting point to improve maintenance outcomes is keeping maintenance funding on pace with inflation. Improving maintenance outcomes has many benefits, including extending the service lives of assets, eliminating potential safety hazards, and increasing traffic flow efficiency.

Report Date


Report Number


Digital Object Identifier



© 2018 University of Kentucky, Kentucky Transportation Center

Information may not be used, reproduced, or republished without KTC’s written consent.

The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Transportation Center, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the United States Department of Transportation, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. The inclusion of manufacturer names or trade names is for identification purposes and should not be considered an endorsement.