Last stretch of Mountain Parkway expansion clears environmental hurdle

Published 5:17 pm Monday, June 10, 2024

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman has announced that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has completed its environmental review of the Mountain Parkway Expansion’s final 13-mile segment, clearing the way for building the last few miles of the project.

The FHWA found no significant environmental impacts would result from constructing the new roadway. That determination marks a necessary step toward advancing the project to construction.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) prepared and submitted the required environmental documentation to FHWA last year after completing a thorough evaluation. FHWA approved KYTC’s assessment of the final segment allowing the project team to proceed with detailed design and preconstruction activities.

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“The Mountain Parkway expansion isn’t just an investment in a project; it’s an investment in the safety and opportunities for the people of Eastern Kentucky,” said Coleman. “This federal decision affirms our assessment that ensured progress, people and places were considered as we make great strides to fulfill a commitment that has been decades in the making.”

This environmental evaluation process falls under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). It requires transportation agencies to examine the environmental, social and economic impacts that could result from the proposed project and weigh those impacts against the public need for transportation to determine which option would be in the best interest of the public.

“We’re excited to move full steam ahead on this transformative and much-needed project for the people of Eastern Kentucky,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “We’re thankful for public input throughout the process and we look forward to delivering a transportation solution that can energize the economic potential in this part of the state.”

The Mountain Parkway Expansion is a 45-mile transformational transportation project that will create a wider, safer connection between Eastern Kentucky and the rest of the Commonwealth. The project consists of six segments, all of which are currently completed, under construction or under development. Once the project is finished, Kentucky will have 400 continuous miles of four-lane, high speed highway connecting Pikeville to Paducah, creating increased commerce and mobility across the state.

The overall Mountain Parkway Expansion project includes widening 32 miles of existing parkway to four lanes, including this final segment which will extend the parkway by 13 miles from Salyersville to Prestonsburg.