Adopting a comprehensive suite of methods to track, analyze, and maintain data on bridge construction costs can help state transportation agencies identify and implement strategies to mitigate the influence of factors which escalate project costs. This report discusses how the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) should approach updating, maintaining, and analyzing its bridge construction cost data. Based on a review of practices introduced at other agencies and interviews with public and private industry stakeholders, the report catalogues practical strategies for improving estimating procedures and tracking cost data as well as the most important cost drivers of bridge construction. Analysis of KYTC data on average unit bid prices for eight key bid items on bridge projects found that prices went up for every item between 2015 and 2021. Steel reinforcement and epoxy coated steel reinforcement displayed the most consistent linear upward trend, while greater variability was noticeable in prices for Class A and AA concrete and foundation preparation. This analysis substantiated observations by interviewees that contractors submit higher bid prices when they perceive greater risk associated with a work item. Recommendations for process improvements at the Cabinet focus on agencywide rollout of AASHTOWare Estimation, conducting post-construction reviews, establishing contract durations that reasonably accommodate the completion of all work, and performing more in-depth geotechnical investigations.

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