HMB is the lead engineering firm providing environmental planning and location studies for an approximate 30-mile section of proposed I-66 in Kentucky. The I-66 Somerset to London project would construct a segment of Interstate 66 in Pulaski and Laurel Counties, Kentucky from I-75 in the east to the Somerset Northern Bypass (I-66) in the west. The new facility would complete a four-lane, limited access link between I-75 and I-65. From the western termini in Pulaski County to the Rockcastle River crossing, the alternatives traverse a region of extensive karst terrain characterized by sinkholes, sinking streams, sunken valleys, springs, caverns, and related subsurface drainage features. The public concerns over the impacts to the karst terrain and its associated water quality and ecological was identified early in the project’s public involvement. Due to the extent of karst terrain, including areas of the Daniel Boone National Forest, it was determined that additional surveys would be necessary. In addition to studies typically performed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) hired consultants to perform karst geology, hydrogeology and faunal (animal) surveys for the project area.
The karst surveys conducted for the I-66 project were the largest such efforts for a transportation project ever completed in the state of Kentucky. Surveys identified animal species previously unknown to science and located unknown features, including a cave containing the Rafinesque’s bat. The complex material was incorporated in the EIS using graphics and plain English to effectively communicate the findings to the public.
HMB is also the team member with primary responsibility for coordinating the project’s public involvement aspects. Due to the presence of highly organized opposition groups, sensitive geologic conditions, and potential impacts to historic sites, this I-66 section is anticipated to be one of the most sensitive roadway projects in Kentucky over the next decade. The project has already required six meetings with a specially formed Citizens Advisory Committee, two sets of public meetings, and a mailing list of over 11,000 people in its first year.