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New interstate bypass won’t cut through Bernheim Forest, KYTC says

By Amy Joseph Landon

Source: WLKY
October 23, 2019
By Kristopher White

Click here to view video.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s highway bypass plan will change course.

KYTC and Gov. Matt Bevin announced Wednesday that no sections of the proposed 1-65 to 1-71 regional connector routes owned by the Bernheim Forest remain under consideration due to environmental concerns.

The connector was slated to begin in Bullitt County and cut across significant streams, farmlands and communities throughout the Salt River watershed.

“We have several viable options for this important project that will not impact conservation land owned by Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest,” Bevin said.

Since officials announced the proposed connector routes, there have been numerous meetings and protests against the plan. Officials with Bernheim said the project would have hurt wildlife, water and air in the area.

On Wednesday, Bernheim Executive Director Mark Wourms said they applaud the decision to spare the forest.

“We are thrilled that the decision was made to protect a large forest that provides clean air and water for our region, habitat for several rare species and serves as a crucial corridor to allow wildlife to move safely. We appreciate that the Commonwealth has heard the voices of the many people speaking for nature and conservation in general, and Bernheim specifically,” Wourms said, in part.

KYTC plans to continue the connector with different routes in mind. Proposed routes will be revealed before the end of the year at the next group meeting.

LG&E still has plans to build a 12-mile natural gas pipeline through the Bernheim Forest.

Wourms also addressed that on Wednesday, “We encourage LG&E to follow this action and to also protect this critical conservation land from the proposed pipeline.”

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