I-66 Opposition Comments

“I read Mr. Brugger’s article with keen interest. I am interested in both the environmental and economic aspects of this proposed project. As a person interested in the economic realities of the proposed project, perhaps he could encourage the individual who indicated a fairly optimistic 600% plus return on investment on construction and operation of the proposed highway to break down those gains on a line-item basis and detail who receives what portion of the gains which are realized. Certainly, those who own properties adjacent to highway interchanges stand to realize substantial profits from sales of these properties (bought cheaply in the past) in the future. Then there will be the proposed development of those properties. It would be of great interest to know to whom those properties belong to currently and compare this against a list of Rep. Roger’s campaign contributors past and present, and those who have ties to the local and county political power structures. Here in the Delaware River Basin where I live, there has been a prolonged effort to dredge the Delaware River from the ocean to Philadelphia and perhaps beyond. An initial economic study by the US Army Corps of Engineers suggested that there would be a certain necessary level of economic benefit for every dollar spent on the project – a necessary return on expenditure to justify the project.  Subsequent analysis by environmental groups forced a re-analysis of this rosy economic picture by the USACE and resulted in a substantial restating of the return in expenditure in the downward direction – such that the project was no longer viable from an economic basis…Perhaps this sort of re-evaluation should begin with this project. A crucial initial study performed by the University of Kentucky during the 1990’s examined the premises of economic benefits and viability of the project. The first report was suppressed and the purported negative outcomes were never allowed to be examined by the public. Who caused this and why. Would this have resulted in the scrapping of the project at that point in time?? Secondly, there was a rather large acrimonious public debate which took place in the US House of Representatives between Rep. Rogers and Rep. Baesler during the 1990’s as to where the path of the proposed project would be blazed. Rep. Baesler proposed use of existing I-64. Rep. Rogers used his position and political power to squash this idea and write into the early legislation the highway corridor which is currently being investigated. Perhaps former Rep. Baesler would be interested in elaborating on this discussion and why the current route was chosen despite being less than 50 miles north in many places from existing interstate I-40 to the south and Interstate I-64 to the north.  This sort of interstate highway density is not warranted by the population it purports to serve or it’s apparent lack of connectivity and destinations. Interestingly, the economic analyst who promoted the passage of proposed I-66 through London seemingly failed to mention that the passage of I-75 (a major North-South interstate) has not provided the London/Corbin area with major economic benefits. What basis is being used to suggest that a second interstate will be any better? The tourist areas of the Lake Cumberland, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and Daniel Boone National Forest are adequately served by the exiting highway systems present. There is little evidence that the proposed highway segments approved or planned will lift those people and areas impacted by poverty out of their current state. Some of this problem is geography. The Environmental Impact Statement for the Pikeville segment suggested this in it’s economic analysis when it discussed the lack of available suitable lands upon which to build factories or other employment-generating industries and businesses – much of this related to topography. However, given the progression of mountain-top removals for strip-mining purposes, this may be lack of suitable topography is changing. Additionally, I find it unlikely that the true costs of habitat and species destruction during construction and operation of the proposed project have been adequately calculated, nor the potentials for serious soil, groundwater, and surface water impacts in the event of a release of hazardous materials from a truck travelling along this proposed highway. Perhaps harkening back to the spill of hydrofluoric acid from a tanker in the Berea area which resulted in serious large scale contamination and environmental impacts to the area about the spill and closure of the highway for what I recall was multiple weeks and millions of dollars spent have not been considered. The potentials for environmental damages from the release of a chlorinated solvent, such as TCE, in the karst are immense. Clay liners and other containments have little to no effect in retarding these types of materials from their migration into the sources of many people’s domestic water supplies from wells. In addition, these contaminants are among the most long-lived as source material and breakdown products.  Not only would there be immediate environmental consequences for such a spill on a local and regional aquifer scale, but this material would be transported long distances in the karst aquifer system and would also linger deep in the fractured limestones in which the karst is developed. Then there is the chronic contamination which would only be magnified by an increase of traffic through the area. This comes from the tiny amounts of soot, oil, grease, rubber and metals which all of our vehicles leave behind as they drive through an area.  Bowling Green has seen the impacts to karst from the effects of these materials being washed off their highways and into Bypass Cave. A masters thesis on this matter is on file at the WKU library if you are interested. These sorts of materials will also be washed off the proposed highway segment into the karst with no treatment possible short of collecting all the dust and run-off rain water and sending it all to a central wastewater treatment plant for proper treatment and disposal… Of course all this ends up as contaminated sediment and water going to Lake Cumberland. This comes from the karst systems providing transport of the waters and contaminants from the highways segment on the karst to the springs which feed many of the area’s rivers and streams – such as the Rockcastle River and Buck Creek. Public meetings by the KTC have already indicated the identification of one unique (not rare, not endangered, but unique to science – rarer than rare) specie during the course of the karst environmental investigation. Potentially there are other rare and endangered species present which would suffer irrepairable damage from short and long term effects from the construction and operation of this proposed project. Both Buck Creek and the Rockcastle river are very important to the sensitive aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems present in the areas under consideration.  A HAZMAT spill in the karst would be potentially devastating to the surface streams in the area.  These stream and rivers and their surroundings are home to many endangered species. The KTC has failed to justify the sufficiency or effectiveness of their karst investigation past those karst features which are physically identifiable from the surface. Many karst systems have little or no surface expression. The most sensitive technologies such as seismic imaging, microgravitytraverses and grids, or 3-D resistivity traverses and grids have not been used to identify karst which has no surface expression either as a programmatic element of the karst investigation or in any meaningful extent in the proposed highway corridor. In addition, no justification has been made by the KTC or the FHWA as to why these technologies are not being employed to determine whether these hidden features exist. These criticisms were communicated the the KTC during the public comment period following their November 2004 public meeting, with no response from the KTC despite repeated prompting for such during the past 15 months. Their initial response was that they were not required to respond within any certain time frame. They have since failed to even acknowledge repeated attempts at communication. The KTC has contended that no study of completely water filled and inaccessible karst features was necessary – to which I respond how does one know until one performs the investigation. There are wider implications to this highway construction boom in the Somerset Kentucky area. Two additional bypass segments are being planned or built at this writing. Both cross substantial karst, but the Southwestern Bypass crosses karst ranging from highly dissected margin karst to sinkhole plain karst and proposes to connect to the Northern Bypass, which was potentially illegally segmented from the London to Somerset Segment. Both the Northern and Southwestern Bypasses were allowed environmental approval through the application of Environmental Assessments, rather than an Environmental Impact Statement. Poorly publicized and potentially closed door meetings by Federal and State Agencies determined that these two individual segments required the much less stringent Environmental Assessment. But, tellingly, the combined segments of bypass are greater in length than the proposed segment length of the London to Somerset Segment. Additionally, there is substantially more karst present in these two segments than in the whole proposed London to Somerset segment. The Southwestern Bypass EA is terribly deficient with respect to an adequate karst biologic and hydrologic investigation. Once the two segments were proposed to intersect, no additional discussion was carried out to determine whether an EIS was now neccesary for the combined greater segment. An argument has been made that the Southwestern Bypass was in the works long before the Northern Bypass and that they are separate projects with separate pots of money. However, they physically connect and are greater in length as a combined whole than the segment that is having an EIS performed. It begs a few questions which may never be answered given the powerful combination of politics and powerful state agencies already shown to have corruption problems locally and statewide.

Fact: The EA document for the Northern Bypass suggests that it was studied as a stand-alone Somerset Bypass segment, but would be integrated into the proposed London to Somerset I-66 segment if the EIS was approved.
Fact: The Southwestern Bypass Environmental Assessment was quickly and quietly re-written with a new route alternative in order to connect to the proposed Northern Bypass with little opportunity for either public hearings or debates following the announcement of the proposed Northern Bypass.
Fact: The KTC District 8 office “lost” my technical commentary on the deficiencies of the Southwestern Bypass EA which would have to be responded to for purposes of a Finding Of No Significant Impact or Record of Decision regarding the lack of sufficient data regarding the karst in the suddenly revised selected route alternative of the southwestern Bypass.

The District supposedly withdrew and resubmitted their official correspondence transcript to reflect the re-inclusion of the criticism which I sent. They sent me an apology e-mail (how often does this happen?)which I believe i still retain and indicated that since I sent the commentary directly to the KTC Dist 8 project manager and not his administrative liason (Cathi Blair), that the PM forgot to get it into the official transcript. Reading the finding or record of decision later, it was not apparent that the comments ever made it to the appropriate personnel for response. One of them specifically pointed out the lack of karst hydrologic and biologic research proportional to the amount of karst present. Another pointed out that since the project was being funded with federal money, that if water could be proven to flow into Lake Cumberland (a federal flood control impoundment) from the karst, that the water within and the karst itself would possibly be subject to the much more stringent provisions and application of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act, rather than Kentucky’s rather laxly enforced groundwater rules and regulations. This was never addressed such that I could determine. This same criticism was leveled at the Northern Bypass EA and was never addressed…. This criticism has it’s roots in eastern US water law…. I’m not a NEPA attorney, but I think this has sound basis for further questioning. The argument that the two segments connect as a greater whole and that the two EAs were released for public commentary on the same date has spawned little environmental interest from the legal standpoint, yet should be investigated. Prior court cases have determined that highway subdivision and segmentation in order to minimize potential negative environmental impact conclusion outcomes which might cause the project to be cancelled are illegal. However this challenge has not been raised yet. This leads to yet another interesting paradox. A political and non-profit set of foundations have been established to promote the construction and operation of I-66. These groups appear to be well-funded and organized. They compete against a small group of environmental activists and concerned citizens who have little to no funding and often work as individuals in their concerns and objections to the proposed highway projects. Yet one more concern follows this discussion. The current state of the National Environmental Policy Act, its guidelines, rules, regulations and laws makes it so complex that the ordinary un-funded citizen group cannot mount any substantial challenge to conclusions in enormous documents like an EIS or even smaller documents like an EA without expensive legal representation.  Yet the governmental agencies charged with performing these studies have the benefit of knowledgeable legal staff who do nothing but work on NEPA and Endangered  Species Act issues. They do so with funding from our tax dollars, while those who object to the project do not. These experienced legal staff are often challenged to justify the legality of a certain action or determination. This can take the form of nullification or obfuscation of the objections of the citizens who take the time to make their voice heard through arbitrary determinations as to whether or not the comment was presented in correct form or referenced the appropriate statute, law, or regulation – regardless of substantiative and appropriate content or inquiry. One often sees official response to objections which have environmental basis as “Irrelevant”, because the objection was not state with appropriate reference to chapter and verse of the applicable statutes And then, there is the thorny subject of the mitigation of environmental impact which cannot be denied or written off, or buried in an appendix. An interesting example would be found in the Pikeville EIS. In the document, it was stated that in order to construct the highway along the proposed selected route alternative, that the only stream which contained rare and endangered species and which was unaffected by acid mine drainage or similar degradation was going to be impacted in order to construct the highway. Since this impact was recognized, a solution to deal with and prevent as much as possible this damage (called mitigation) was required. No solution was found to mitigate the damage to the stream at the point of impact or the effects which it would cause to the ecosystem downstream. You would think that this would mean that you have to back up and re-think whether or not the project should continue. You’d be wrong. The way the laws are written, since the impact couldn’t be avoided where it was to take place, and the actions had to take place where they did or they couldn’t accomplish the project, the route was not required to be modified to avoid the impact. Now one would think that if you can avoid the impact and it is significant and impacts rare and endangered species that you might have to say that there was a finding of significant impact and the no-build option would have to be chosen. You’d be wrong again…. Instead, mitigation is being proposed to be performed at a completely different, un-related location, to a stream poisoned by acid mine drainage and devoid of the endangered species which will be negatively impacted by the highway. Something is fundamentally wrong with this sort of solution. Partly this is because often, just like wetlands mitigation, the mitigation strategy fails to accomplish what is required by law and is poorly monitored and enforced. The impact to the endangered species occurs as planned anyway and thus money is spent to no benefit of the environment, but does benefit the companies which provide these sorts of services. Secondly, no amount of mitigation will bring back a species once its gone and if the fix fails and the impact occurs before the fix is proven to solve the problem. The emperor appears to have no clothes, but they are widely praised in the fashion magazines for their tailoring, cut and style. The photos bear this out. The NEPA system operates, but has been mutated through work-arounds, case law and lack of knowledgable representation for those who object to the actions being contemplated. The system is being used by the few to benefit the few and to the detriment of the relatively unspoiled and unique way of life and environmental surroundings of the people of southeastern Kentucky. Saying it benefits the many in any substantial way is inappropriate, and cannot be proven, while there are many cogent arguments to be made to the contrary; citing potentially irrepairable damage to landscape, environment, historic resources and lifestyle. And BTW in passing, I have driven the segment of existing I-66 from Washington DC to Front Royal VA… IMO All it is is a short cut to I-81. I find it ironic that those who first conceived of I-66 in ?Oklahoma or Kansas have abandoned the idea as economically unsound and unworkable, while Rep. Rogers has made it part of his re-election campaign. Sounds like an intelligent design if you ask me.

Mark Turner
MS. PG
Environmental Consultant
Karst Specialist
Life Member, National Speleological Society
Wilmington, Delaware”

Cannot Prove Benefits of Kentucky’s I-66

Yes roads CAN bring economic development, but the following things need to ALREADY be in place:
Educated Workforce
Infrastructure including telecommunications, sewers, water, safe secondary roads, better schools, international airport, etc., etc.

From a Clemson University study:

“Unless a community already has some growth underway, it is unlikely that new highways will do much to trigger growth. Improvement in schools, investments in water and sewer upgrades, and attention to
such things as race relations, protection of historic landmarks, and other quality of life factors may pay bigger dividends for such communities than new highways. Only after those things are done and the signs of local job and income growth begin to appear does it make much sense to shift the focus to developmental highways.”

Highway officials & politicians say how every $1 spent on interstates returns $5 in ED but where is the data to back that statement up??? They don’t tell you that!! Its just projections, show us the data. So I-75 came through London, why are there MORE people below the poverty level than before? 20% of our residents are on disability. Where is the willing/educated workforce?

Factories are moving overseas to get cheap labor. There are over 200 industrial parks in KY all with vacancies and all are competing for these jobs. London is lucky to have the bakeries, automotive companies & service industries. Some of these businesses are expanding. But where is the ABC Company that was supposed to occupy the Ind. Park Spec bldg? Where is the Home Depot? There’s speculation that SAMS Club may come. These businesses are here already. I-66 did not attract them. And I-66 will not make their shipping costs go down, so what is the benefit to business? Factories have left Laurel County too, did they leave because there is no I-66?

Its personal to us because we live in DBNF & will make every effort to protect it. We care about the threat of global warming and do not care to make more people sick from increased car exhaust & pollution from runoff. We care about protecting not destroying the environment. We care about the watershed and the caves of Sinking Valley, the Cumberland & the Rockcastle. Maybe we weren’t born here but we live here now. And we’re gonna stay. The DBNF is a NATIONAL TREASURE. Its bigger than the wants of some individuals. And as a person of faith (maybe not yours…) I guess I care about being a steward for the environment more than you do.

So is this I-66 segment gonna be the “TRASH” Highway? Because its going straight to Laurel Ridge Landfill. Is this what we want our town to be known for?? Our great Landfill? Bring your trash to London, trash capitol of KY!

The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. Going from Somerset to London via 80 makes sense to me. I-66 takes people away from London. If I-66 is built, it is most likely that the economic development will shift away from 80 & downtown London to the interstate area.

Will it save me anything if they build I-66? I don’t think my car insurance rates will go down any and I also don’t think it will make driving any safer. Its still gonna cost big bucks to fill our gas tanks! Driver education and vehicle inspections are what is needed if we want safer roads. It also won’t lessen impaired drivers, a threat to us all.

So exactly what are the PROVABLE benefits of I-66? To me there are more benefits to NOT building it than there are TO build it. Some things you can’t put a price tag on, like the environment. Let’s tell our representatives to spend our tax dollars on health care, education and job training for this county’s citizens, not a road which will provide some short term jobs for construction workers and big profits for contractors & land speculators. Looking to make some big $$$ selling your property for I-66? Good luck getting assessed value for your property and can you replace what you already have? Good Luck!

Finally, The Sierra Club has named I-66 in the top ten worst transportation projects in their “Smart Chioces Less Traffic” study. The NRDC and Taxpayers for Common Sense have also submitted reports naming Kentucky’s I-66 in the top 10 worst road building choices. Are these scientists and other experts wrong???

I-66 Opposition Comments from Archive

“1. The project is pure pork at a time when we are $9 trillion in debt, and KY-80 can handily handle all the traffic for the next 50 years.
2. Another crossing of the Rockcastle wild and scenic River is indefensible and illegal according to current KY law.
3. Anouncing a preferred route does nothing to assure that karst features will not be spoiled. Archaeological and historical studies need to be done and a practical mitigation plan developed for each karst feature. General assertion that they will avoid, minimize, or mitigate karst issues are not believable.
4. The large number of proposed new interchanges — all without any zoning or environmental control — means more pollution and straight pipes from interchange developments. Are the individuals who have bought up the land and development rights at these proposed intersections on the take?
5. I’m opposed to the whole project and have heard or read nothing yet to tell me they have been listening.”

So many reasons why I-66 should NOT be built

“There are so many reasons why I-66 should NOT be built, it is hard to decide where to start. Let me just touch upon the major ones here. The environmental impacts of I-66 would make it the most destructive man-made project ever built, slicing and dicing through KY’s vanishing beautiful mountain landscape and what is left of our most pristine areas that are worth preserving. Then there is the money issue…with a projected $9 trillion national debt looming over our nation by the end of the Bush administration, there are no funds available for such a project where the need is highly questionable. Should we just borrow the money for this project from China and Japan like much of the rest of our debt? Kentucky surely cannot afford to build it with state funds. Then we must consider our crumbling infrastructure that has suffered from years of neglect. It would seem to me that the prudent and feasible thing to do would be to fix what we have. Every time I cross a bridge in KY I wonder if it is going to collapse under me. With the structural deficient rating on more than half of our bridges, that is not an unreasonable concern. The current interstate system roadways are in dire need of maintenance.
As that most appropriate Sheryl Crow verse says, “It is not getting what you want, but wanting what you’ve got.”

I-66 is an example of fraud, waste, and abuse

The same crowd that OKd the “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska are the ones that are behind I-66. Based on the estimated traffic volume, there may be more traffic per million dollars on that Alaska bridge than on I-66.

Our Congressman is demonstrating that he can waste money in the same league as our President — I-66 can only divert traffic from KY-80 at 1000 times the cost. It reminds me of the farm that had two windmills. There wasn’t enough wind for two, so they took one down. We don’t have enough traffic on KY 80, so we’d better build a superhighway! There’s already a little-used parkway between Somerset and I-65, so we sure do need another one!

I-66 is an example of fraud, waste, and abuse. The fraud is the claim that the new Interstate is needed for safety and for existing traffic. The waste is more than a billion dollars of our tax money for I-66 by a government that is $9 trillion in debt. The abuse is the insult that people are so stupid as to want a new road when the ones we have are deteriorating.

I-66 is like Iraq — it will employ a lot of people, run us out of money, keep contractors getting rich for years, and inflate the ego of the Congressman who got us into this extravagant mess. It’s a monument to stupidity and profligacy, not a patriotic duty. Most Kentuckians know better.

Bypassing Cities will have economic consequences

Will new roads hurt Somerset
By BILL MARDIS, Editor Emeritus
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset – Somerset city officials are deeply concerned that evolution of Cumberland Parkway into I-66 and a developing circle of four-lane highways around Somerset will divert traffic away from the city’s thriving business district along six-lane U.S. 27.

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler and City Engineer Alex Godsey during a meeting Monday with the Commonwealth Journal also expressed fear that closing a section of Cumberland Parkway west of Somerset and veering the parkway slightly northward as I-66 to an interchange with U.S. 27 south of Science Hill will take Somerset’s vital tourist trade north of the business district along U.S. 27.

“(U.S.) 27 is the lifeblood of Somerset,” said Girdler. He and Godsey worry that unprecedented highway construction in Pulaski County will rush tourists past Somerset in all directions and leave restaurants, service stations and other businesses along U.S. 27 gasping for precious tourist dollars.

Girdler emphasized time and time again that he is not opposed to I-66, but his concern is diverting traffic away from U.S. 27, the main business district in Somerset.

The first leg of the northern bypass (I-66) is under construction and is scheduled for completion late in 2010 or 2011. It will leave unused a half-mile section of existing Cumberland Parkway from the top of Fishing Creek hill east to the North Hart Road connector. This section of the Cumberland Parkway will be “abandoned” by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, according to District 8 engineers.

Godsey said he has been told by Highway Department engineers that interstate standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation prohibit a Somerset access from the realigned Cumberland Parkway (I-66) onto the “abandoned” section of the existing parkway, even if it were left open to traffic.

Bill Chaney, branch manager for project delivery and preservation for the Highway Department’s District 8, said the closed section of the parkway will remain and there are procedures for it to be used by other governmental entities. As for exit and entrance ramps off and onto the realigned Cumberland Parkway at the top of Fishing Creek hill, Chaney said there will be major grade differences, indicating these types of ramps, even if permitted, would be expensive to construct.

Highway Department engineers contend there will be plenty of access into Somerset from I-66 (northern bypass). Motorists from the west headed to Somerset will simply take a ramp off I-66 at the southwestern bypass (Ky. 914) interchange and travel about 2,000 feet along southwestern bypass to a signaled intersection at existing Cumberland Parkway. The section of Cumberland Parkway (not a part of I-66) from just west of Hacker Road underpass east to Somerset will remain open, same as always.

Westbound motorist on Ky. 80 bypass may continue through traffic light No. 3 at U.S. 27 to a to-be-installed traffic light at the southwestern bypass; then turn right and travel about 2,000 feet onto a partial cloverleaf intersection with I-66.

Noting additional options with the new highway configuration, Chaney pointed out that motorists taking the ramp off the new Cumberland Parkway (northern bypass and I-66) onto the southwestern bypass (Ky. 914) may turn east along the existing Cumberland Parkway to U.S. 27 at Ky. 80 bypass (traffic light No. 3). Also, they may continue along the southwestern bypass and reach Somerset along Slate Branch Road, or Oak Hill Road, or follow the southwestern bypass to U.S. 27 at Beacon Hill Baptist Church where it joins the southeastern bypass.

Proponents of growth point out that hotels, motels and restaurants are sure to spring up at I-66 interchanges north of Somerset.

“This is long-term growth and none of the northern bypass is in the city,” said Girdler. He emphasized that it is his mission as mayor to do all he can to protect existing businesses in Somerset.

Frankly, Girdler says he doesn’t have a highway plan, and admits it’s probably too late for that. “What’s done has been done … the roads are under contract; being built.”

The mayor said he was incorrectly under the impression that the southwestern bypass would overpass the Cumberland Parkway to join the northern bypass. He learned differently when Highway Department engineers disclosed to the Commonwealth Journal that the Cumberland Parkway would be realigned to evolve into I-66 and a section of the parkway would be closed.

The mayor wonders what kind of signage, including billboards, would be effective in directing motorists off the interstate. Chaney said installation of green interstate signs will make motorists well aware of exits leading into Somerset.

The mayor concedes that interstate signage and exit ramps are typical of interstates in major cities, ” … but this is Somerset and U.S. 27 is Somerset,” he insists.

Girdler bemoaned the lack of an early plan for major expansions at interstate interchanges to the north.

“Who will build the infrastructure … who will extend water and sewer lines to these new businesses?” he asked.

Then, answering his own question, Girdler said the city of Somerset is the only governmental agency that can do it ” … and it will take $35 million, according to a study done by Somerset last year, to serve those interchanges,” the mayor noted. “Water districts don’t have financial resources to do it … they depend on grants,” he observed.

“We (Somerset Water Service) are now in a relatively short supply of water … not from the lake but in capacity of our water system,” said Girdler. He said a letter will go out next week to water districts “cutting off new growth outside the county.” Somerset supplies treated water to most of the rural districts, as well as the municipally owned Eubank Water System with about 5,000 customers in Pulaski, Lincoln and Casey counties. Some of the other rural water systems also extend across county lines.

“Any major (expansion) project, even in the county, will have to be approved by Somerset,” the mayor said.

Adding to Girdler’s concern about bypassing U.S. 27 is four-laning of Ky. 1247 from Ky. 914 (southeastern bypass) through Cedar Grove to a partial cloverleaf interchange with Ky. 90 and U.S. 27 in northern Burnside.

When the road through Cedar Grove is completed, motorists from northern cities, home of the Ohio Navy, can come south on Ky. 461 from I-75; take four-lane Ky. 80 bypass to Ky. 914 (southeastern bypass); then Ky. 1247 to Burnside, Monticello and points south without ever seeing the lights of Somerset.

Progress is being made to extend I-66 all the way to Ky. 80 at Barnesburg. Chaney said utilities are currently being moved along the route of the northern bypass (I-66) from U.S. 27 east to Ky. 39 and most of the design work has been done along the corridor from Ky. 39 to Ky. 80, about a mile and a quarter west of the intersection with Ky. 461. The section of I-66 from U.S. 27 to Ky. 39 is about ready for a construction contract as soon as money is available, Chaney said.

When I-66 (northern bypass) is completed to Ky. 80, motorists from the north will be able to pick up the new interstate at Barnesburg and bypass Somerset to the north. If headed south to points on Lake Cumberland at Burnside, Monticello or wherever, tourists can exit onto the southwestern bypass (Ky. 914) and travel through the Oak Hill community to U.S. 27 at Beacon Hill Baptist Church, again totally bypassing the Somerset business district on U.S. 27.

“I was told the purpose of an interstate (route) is to avoid Somerset traffic,” said Girdler, ” … and that doesn’t fly with me,” he declared. “We’ve got a marketing problem to keep people from continuing east to London or north to Lexington and passing by Somerset.”

Pulaski County Judge-Executive Barty Bullock said he plans to meet with Girdler and Godsey, and discuss the problem with 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers. I-66 is the brainchild of Rogers and the congressman maneuvered its route to serve Eastern Kentucky and Somerset.

Contacted Tuesday, Rogers said highway designs are done by engineers. “I’m not exactly familiar with the problem, but I’ll be happy to meet with them,” he said.”

I-66 Comments

“It is shocking that the I-66 project has not been killed off by responsible legislators during this time of financial desperation.

The price of the proposed 33-mile I-66 segment between US 23 in KY and the proposed King Coal Highway in WVA has more than doubled, from $735 million in 1997 to $1.6 billion today. That’s more than Bush is giving Bechtel to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure.

At $42 million a mile, this has to be the most expensive highway ever built. KICK 66 estimates that the $1.6 billion is more than enough to GOLD PLATE the entire 33-mile stretch of highway.

I-66 is a waste Financial Feasibility Studies must be conducted by independent degreed economists and proof must be shown that there will be a sufficient return in this investment.

Gas taxes will need to be raised to support this unprecedented splurge on road building. Kentucky residents WILL NOT support an increase in gas taxes.

Megaprojects require a Financial Plan before construction; this is a detailed plan that identifies where the money is going to come from, what the risks to the public are if cost overruns occur or the funding sources dry up, what other projects won’t get done if the megaproject is pursued, etc. Where is the Financial Plan for the Pikeville to King Coal Highway project?

The cost estimate is very incomplete and the state truly has no idea where the money is going to come from. $1.6 billion in one I-66 segment could easily become $2 billion, or more. A summer 2002 article in the Journal of the American Planning Association reviewed transportation projects for the past 90 years and concludes that initial cost estimates are deliberately understated to get projects going and to get momentum. This professional article actually says project proponents lie about costs and use “salami tactics” showing project risks and costs “one slice at a time” to make costs appear as low as possible for as long as possible.

If officials want to improve the economy in Pike County, why not just give each resident $18,000. That might be a better way to spend that $1.6 billion.

Last July, the Virginia State Auditor audited Va DOT’s books and found its 6-yr highway plan a “wish list” since VDOT “promises to build roads without knowing whether it has the money to pay for them,” that the state does not track maintenance costs for its highways and instead guesses how much maintenance $$ they’ll spend each year, that there is no accountability for cost overruns, etc. The state, in response and with support of the Governor, cut $3 billion from its 6-yr. highway plan. Where is the Kentucky State Auditor??

And how is KY going to pay for the NEXT segment?
The 43-mile stretch of proposed I-66 from Somerset to London is already estimated to cost an average of $22 million/mile.

Statewide, the I-66 project which will stretch 420 miles from WVA to Pikeville across Kentucky to Paducah and westward to MO, is estimated to cost $5 billion or more. Studies have shown that pre-construction estimates are generally 20% below the actual cost of the project. Several I-66 segments across KY are in the planning stages. How are these going to be paid for?

Who will benefit?
Officials claim that I-66 will bring economic development and jobs to Appalachia and the rest of Kentucky, but with I-75, I-64 and I-40, another interstate is not needed in this region of the country. There is no proof that building this road will improve the economy. The Coldstream Research Park and other vacant industrial sites throughout the state disprove this theory. The London Sentinel-Echo reported recently that tourism has increased in the London-Somerset region in the past two years. That has been accomplished without a $5+ billion dollar road.
This Federal money could be much better spent elsewhere. This road will only benefit campaign contributors: road construction companies, consultants, and land speculators.

I-66 is not needed and will NOT make travel safer. In fact, an increase of accidents will be seen if this highway is built without improving the inadequate secondary roads. Traffic studies are mentioned in the report, but the data to back up the numbers are not included.

If the coal trucks need improved access in this state LET THE COAL COMPANIES PAY FOR IT!! Public comment is mentioned in the report, but the Court Reporter transcripts are not included in Appendix A of the DEIS or FEIS although the FEIS states they are.

You should have known for years that I-66 is not financially feasible!
The 1997 Feasibility Study/Justification for I-66 and subsequent reports fail to justify the need or financial feasibility of I-66 in Kentucky. The inadequacy of the consultants to use up-to-date economic models, accurate statistics and commonly-held community values in determining whether or not I-66 is in the best interest of all Kentucky residents should trigger the suspension of all further planning work until the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet can demonstrate that this project is financially feasible and economically justifiable.
Local folks in the proposed construction corridor want to save their land, not pave it! The 314 people who attended public meetings and the 64 who voiced comments in this region prove that inadequate measures were used to inform the public about this project.

I-66 WILL FURTHER DAMAGE THE ENVIRONMENT. Treasures should be protected, NOT “mitigated”: The Daniel Boone National Forest and Mammoth Cave National Park, other surface and subterranean natural wonders, and the traditional, healthy human communities are in jeopardy of extinction if I-66 is built.”

I-66 Comments

“In reviewing the FEIS for the Appalachian Corridor (I-66) I was surprised to see an assertion that there have been no areas of controversy identified and
no controversial issues raised by the public. As a Kentuckian, I am concerned about the cost for this highway, how the highway will be financed, the necessity for another interstate through this region, and the
effects it will have on the Daniel Boone National Forest and Mammoth Cave National Park, other surface and subterranean natural wonders, and the traditional, healthy human communities that are in jeopardy of extinction if I-66 is
built.

I understand that the price of the proposed 33-mile I-66 segment between US 23 in KY and the proposed King Coal Highway in WVA has more than doubled, from $735 million in 1997 to $1.6 billion today, making it a “Megaproject”
at a hefty $42 million a mile.

Megaprojects require a Financial Plan before construction, identifying where the money is going to come from, what the risks to the public are if cost overruns occur or the funding sources dry up, and what other projects won’t get done if the megaproject is pursued.

Where is the Financial Plan for the Pikeville to King Coal Highway project? Furthermore, by designing the proposed I-66 in segments, with each segment costing in the millions, where will funding for the other segments come from? The 43-mile stretch of proposed I-66 from Somerset to London is
already estimated to cost an average of $22 million/mile.

A summer 2002 article in the Journal of the American Planning Association reviewed transportation projects for the past 90 years and concludes that initial cost estimates are deliberately understated to get projects going and to get momentum. This professional article says project proponents use
“salami tactics” showing project risks and costs “one slice at a time” to make costs appear as low as possible for as long as possible.

Statewide, the I-66 project which will stretch 420 miles from WVA to Pikeville across Kentucky to Paducah and westward to MO, is estimated to cost $5 billion or more. Studies have shown that pre-construction estimates are generally 20% below the actual cost of the project. Several I-66 segments across KY are in the planning stages. How are these going to
be paid for?

Officials claim that I-66 will bring economic development and jobs to Appalachia and the rest of Kentucky, but with I-75, I-64 and I-40, another interstate is not needed in this region of the country. There is no proof that building this road will improve the economy. The London Sentinel-Echo reported recently that tourism has increased in this region in the past two
years. That has been accomplished without a $5 billion dollar road. This Federal money could be much better spent elsewhere.

The 1997 Feasibility Study/Justification for I-66 and subsequent reports fail to justify the need or financial feasibility of I-66 in Kentucky. The inadequacy of the consultants to use up-to-date economic models, accurate statistics and commonly-held community values in determining whether or not I-66 is in the best interest of all Kentucky residents should trigger the
suspension of all further planning work until the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet can demonstrate that this project is financially feasible and economically justifiable.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter which affects all Kentuckians.”

I-66 Comments

Having reviewed the Final EIS, I believe this project is a total waste of taxpayers’ money. I-66 is an illegally segmented proposed coast-to-coast highway that is a WASTE of Kentucky’s FARMS – FORESTS – FUNDS – FAMILIES – FUTURE.

During this time of required fiscal responsibility, it is shocking that this I-66 project has not been killed off by some responsible legislators.

The price of the proposed 33-mile I-66 segment between US 23 in KY and the proposed King Coal Highway in WVA has more than doubled, from $735 million in 1997 to $1.6 billion today.

At $42 million a mile, this has to be the most expensive highway ever built.

“Megaprojects” coming to a neighborhood near you:
Nationwide, if the highway industry and big transportation engineering firms get their way, this country is about to embark on a wave of highway “megaprojects”–highway projects exceeding $1 billion in cost. Until
recently there’s only been a handful, but there are now more than 50 planned across the country to the tune of $100 billion. How are we going to pay for all this new concrete? The national highway industry is
proposing to raise gas taxes to support this unprecedented splurge on road building.

Megaprojects require a Financial Plan before construction. This is a detailed plan that identifies where the money is going to come from, what the risks to the public are if cost overruns occur or the funding sources
dry up, what other projects won’t get done if the megaproject is pursued, etc.

Ask the KY Transportation Cabinet: Where is the Financial Plan for the Pikeville to King Coal Highway project?

Looks like a scam, waddles like a scam, and quacks like a scam:
At the “decision to build” stage (end of the NEPA process), the cost estimate is very incomplete and the state truly has no idea where the money is going to come from. You can bet that $1.6 billion in one I-66
segment could easily become $2 billion, or more. A summer 2002 article in the Journal of the American Planning Association reviewed transportation projects for the past 90 years and concludes that initial cost
estimates are deliberately understated to get projects going and to get momentum. This professional article actually says project proponents lie about costs and use “salami tactics” showing project risks and costs “one slice at
a time” to make costs appear as low as possible for as long as possible.

Last July, the Virginia State Auditor audited Virginia’s DOT books and found its 6-yr highway plan a “wish list” since VDOT “promises to build roads without knowing whether it has the money to pay for them,” that the state does not track maintenance costs for its highways and instead
guesses how much maintenance money they’ll spend each year, that there is no accountability for cost overruns, etc. The state, in response and with support of the Governor, cut $3 billion from its 6-yr. highway plan.
Where is the Kentucky State Auditor?

And how are they going to pay for the NEXT segment? The 43-mile stretch of proposed I-66 from Somerset to London is already estimated to cost an average of $22 million/mile.

Statewide, the I-66 project, which will stretch 420 miles from WVA to Pikeville across Kentucky to Paducah and westward to MO, is estimated to cost $5 billion or more. Studies have shown that pre-construction estimates are generally 20% below the actual cost of the project. Several I-66
segments across KY are in the planning stages. How are these going to be paid for?

Who will benefit? Officials claim that I-66 will bring economic development and jobs to Appalachia and the rest of Kentucky, but with I-75, I-64 and I-40, another interstate is not needed in this region of the country. There is no proof that building this road will improve the economy. The London Sentinel-Echo reported recently that tourism has
increased in this region in the past two years. That has been accomplished without a $5 billion dollar road. This Federal money could be much better spent elsewhere. This road will only benefit campaign contributors: road construction companies, consultants, and land speculators.

They have known for years that I-66 is not financially feasible!
The 1997 Feasibility Study/Justification for I-66 and subsequent reports fail to justify the need or financial feasibility of I-66 in Kentucky. The inadequacy of the consultants to use up-to-date economic models, accurate statistics and commonly-held community values in determining whether or not I-66 is in the best interest of all Kentucky residents should trigger
the suspension of all further planning work until the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet can demonstrate that this project is financially feasible and economically justifiable.