Proposed bypass routes

Proposed bypass routes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The state-funded study into a proposed Louisville bypass will take longer than expected.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet now says the report should be finalized in February or March. It originally was to be done in early October, but that timeline was pushed back to mid-November.

The most recent delay comes as the project team sought extra time to review more than a dozen routes and variations of those corridors, said Stephanie Caros, a Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman.

Among the additional work were revisions made to avoid conservation land owned by Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Caros said in an email. Gov. Matt Bevin announced in October that none of the bypass routes would cross forest land.

“The project team is in the final phase of compiling information to present a shortlist of alternatives to the focus groups,” Caros said. “The team still plans to yield three to five corridor alternatives, including ‘no build’ at the end of this study.”

Focus groups that mostly include government officials and politicians are providing input on the routes. There have not been public meetings.

The “65 – 71 Regional Connector” would link Interstate 71 in Oldham or Henry counties with I-65 in Bullitt County. Earlier maps have shown 12 entirely new roads through seven counties and three routes that would expand existing roads, including Ky. 44 in Bullitt County and Ky. 53 and Ky. 55 in Shelby County.

Several routes appeared to cut through conservation land owned by Bernheim north of its namesake property off Ky. 245 in Clermont. Forest officials made the bypass part of their “Bernheim Under Threat” campaign that also opposes a Louisville Gas & Electric Co. natural gas pipeline slated for the land.

The Transportation Cabinet made the bypass one of Kentucky’s top road projects for lawmakers to consider funding when they convene next month, ranking it No. 38 among the top statewide ventures.

State officials recommended setting aside $5 million on “scoping” for a “transportation study” on the bypass. Lawmakers previously approved the current $1.9 million study.

Rep. Sal Santoro, chair of the House budget review subcommittee on transportation, said legislators still could include the project in next year’s road plan even if the study now wrapping up isn’t made public until February or March.

The concept of a third bypass around Louisville – dubbed “another Gene Snyder” – has riled up some residents and community leaders who are concerned about the environmental impact on mostly rural areas, more traffic and sprawl.

Kentucky already is embarking on a major interstate expansion project that includes adding lanes to I-71 between the Gene Snyder Freeway and Crestwood and widening parts of the Snyder.

Supporters of the bypass say Kentucky needs to anticipate growth that may be decades in the future.

Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825, mgreen@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.