SHIFT: Prioritizing Kentucky's Transportation Dollars

In 2016, Gov. Matt Bevin directed the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) to develop a process to better allocate the Commonwealth's limited transportation funds. The Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow (SHIFT) was the result -- a data-driven, objective approach to compare capital improvement projects and prioritize transportation spending.

SHIFT helps reduce overprogramming and provides a clear road map for construction in the coming years. The formula applies to all transportation funding that isn't prioritized by other means, such as maintenance work, local government projects and dedicated federal projects. (Click here for list of project areas inside and outside of SHIFT.) 

Watch this video to learn more about how SHIFT is making every dollar count.”



Five Key Attributes

SHIFT allows policy makers to see just how far down the priority list our limited dollars will go and which other projects could be funded if additional dollars were generated. This collaborative model uses measurable data to assess the need for and benefits of planned projects and compare them to each other.  Projects are scored based on these five key attributes:


SHIFT and the 2018 Highway Plan

The 2018 Highway Plan represents a shift in the right direction -- a significantly less overprogrammed plan compared to previous years with a focus on preserving what we have based on available funding.

Outlining transportation priorities for the next six years (FY 2018-FY 2024), the Plan includes an investment of $2.3 billion in funding to repair more than 1,000 bridges and 5,000 miles of pavement motorists and businesses depend on across the Commonwealth. In the biennium, more than a third of those 1,000 bridges will be replaced or repaired.

The six-year plan includes $8.5 billion for more than 1,400 projects such as safety improvements, road widening, reconstruction and new routes and interchanges. The Plan includes $4.6 billion for mobility and safety projects, $2.3 billion for bridge and pavement repairs, $1 billion in federally dedicated programs (such as transportation enhancements and congestion reduction programs) and $600 million for federal GARVEE debt service payments.

For more than 18 months, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) staff and local transportation leaders evaluated and scored more than 1,100 projects across the state. The model was a useful guide in prioritizing projects. Other factors, such as completing significant corridors, fulfilling previous commitments and evaluating impacts to communities, were also considered.

Biennium Spending Plan Graphic.jpg 2018 Highway Plan Summary.jpg 


 How SHIFT Works


The List – KYTC starts with a list of projects previously identified by state and local transportation leaders (Area Development Districts, Metropolitan Planning Organizations and KYTC Districts). These leaders may add or subtract projects at this stage.
Sponsorship – To move forward, projects must either be sponsored by local transportation leaders or be committed projects – those listed in the previous State Highway Plan with funding beyond the design phase. Each ADD, MPO and District are allocated a number of sponsorships based on population, lane miles and number of counties served. After consulting with local elected officials, transportation leaders choose which projects to sponsor.
Review and Scoring – Each project is reviewed and scored on a scale of 0 to 100 with a formula that uses objective measures for five key attributes – safety, congestion, asset management, economic growth and benefit/cost. Projects of statewide significance – interstates, parkways and other major connecting routes – are scored first. The remaining projects, known as regional projects, are scored using a similar formula.
Statewide Priorities – KYTC identifies the top scoring statewide projects and about one-third are selected for priority funding. The remaining statewide projects are considered during the next phase.
Local Boosting – Local transportation leaders take the lead role in prioritizing regional priorities, which include highways and local roads as well as the remaining statewide projects. Using local insights, ADDs, MPOs and KYTC Districts may "boost" the scores for their top priority projects, adding 15 points to their base scores on the 0-to-100 point scale. Projects boosted by both the District and ADD/MPO receive an additional 30 points – a "turbo boost."
Regional Priorities – Kentucky is divided into four geographic regions – each containing three contiguous KYTC districts. Each region gets an equal allocation of funds. The top ranking projects in each region are the priorities considered in drafting the State Highway Plan.
Recommended State Highway Plan – KYTC combines the statewide and regional priorities to help develop the Governor's Recommended State Highway Plan, which is presented to the General Assembly.
Enacted State Highway Plan – During the legislative session, lawmakers fine-tune the plan based on additional information and funding availability. The result is the Enacted State Highway Plan, which includes two years of funded projects and spending priorities for the following four years.

SHIFT 2020

After the 2018 Highway Plan was enacted, the Cabinet began work on SHIFT 2020 to prioritize projects and develop the 2020 Recommended Highway Plan. A workgroup comprised of technical experts from KYTC, Area Development Districts (ADDs), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and the Kentucky Transportation Center worked over the summer and fall of 2018 to refine the scoring metrics and prioritization process. The Cabinet also consulted an advisory group to solicit feedback on SHIFT, including how best to educate leaders and citizens on this comparative prioritization process.

Local input is critical to the success of SHIFT as projects must be sponsored to be scored in SHIFT. The sponsorship process for  SHIFT 2020 occurs from January 2019 through mid-March 2019. During the summer, regional projects may be “boosted” by local transportation leaders to raise the score of their top priority projects. If you’d like to provide input on projects and the SHIFT process, contact your local Area Development District (ADD), Metropolitan Planning Organization (MP0) or KYTC Department of Highways District office.

SHIFT 2020 Timeline



Supporting Resources

2018 Enacted Highway Plan

2018 Recommended Highway Plan​

Video on how SHIFT works


2018 SHIFT Scores

2018 SHIFT North Region Scores

2018 SHIFT South Region Scores

2018 SHIFT West Region Scores

2018 SHIFT East Region Scores

2018 SHIFT Statewide Scores


SHIFT Regions

Shift region map.png 

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