‘Damage would certainly be done’: Concerns rise about possible Louisville-area bypass

By Amy Joseph Landon

Source: Courier-Journal
By Ben Tobin
June 27, 2019

An interstate-type bypass connecting Louisville’s outer counties might be closer to becoming a reality. But that’s not welcoming news for everybody.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recently released a list of 49 high-ranking projects under consideration for funding by state legislators in 2020. A “transportation study” for the proposed bypass between Interstate 71 in Oldham or Henry County and I-65 in Bullitt County appears at No. 38 on that list.

The cabinet recommends setting aside $5 million for “scoping,” or a more detailed investigation of the bypass, Cabinet spokeswoman Andrea Clifford said.

According to Clifford, a $1.9 million study “to determine project need, project goals, and project feasibility/costs” was included in the 2018 Highway Plan by the state legislature. The final report of the study is due by the end of the year.

The cabinet assembled focus groups earlier this year to explore 15 possible routes, and it will ultimately narrow the selection down to three to five routes, including a “no build” option. Estimated costs are in a rage from $600 million to $1.6 billion, according to Clifford.

Some are concerned that a new bypass would hurt the environment. Andrew Berry, director of conservation at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, said the bypass would cause a “huge fragmentation” in the forest’s land.

“The damage would certainly be done,” Berry said. “Any interstate that goes through a natural area would have a major impact.”

Berry said Bernheim, which is located near I-65 in Clermont, Kentucky, has been “actively engaging” planners and officials regarding the potential construction. The facility is also engaging the public — tomorrow, it will launch a public comment campaign on its website to collect community concerns.

Because no funds have been dedicated beyond the study, Clifford said a “construction timeline has not been established.”

Contact Ben Tobin at bjtobin@gannett.com and 502-582-4181 or follow on Twitter @TobinBen

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