Ashland officials are asking Kentucky’s U.S. senators and representatives for millions to complete federally mandated infrastructure projects.

In case the requests go unmet, the City of Ashland is also applying for about $6 million in Kentucky Infrastructure Authority loans to begin work on sewer projects needed to comply with federal clean water standards.

City Manager Steve Corbitt said this week city officials plan to ask U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis and U.S. Senators Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell for federal funds to complete the first of about six sewer projects. City staff, he said, is working to prepare informational packets in case,“they have some appropriation money.”

“The important thing is to have something about the project in their staff’s hands,” said Corbitt. “If we don’t have to borrow the money, good. It helps our rate payers.”

Corbitt said the city expects to complete about six large-scale sewer projects during the next seven years as part of its 2007 consent decree with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to eliminate its eight combined sewer overflows. After the city signed the decree, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency intervened, mandating the city execute the agreement within 10 years of its signing instead of the 15-year timeline it had agreed to.

The cost to eliminate the CSOs through separation projects, while increasing capacity at the sewage treatment plant, has been estimated at between $40 and $50 million or more.

Strand Engineers Inc., based in Louisville, was hired by the city in 2005 to help it prepare for and complete the consent decree, which also requires a number of administrative documents, plans, maps and supplemental studies.

Corbitt said the first construction project it plans to complete will separate a CSO in the Roberts Drive and Sixth Street area. That project was selected first, he said, because it has the most environmental impact on local water quality.

“This project was picked because if there is an overflow at Roberts Drive you have an overflow into Hoods Creek,” Corbitt said. The city’s remaining CSO’s empty into the Ohio River.

The Sixth Street project includes constructing a large force main that will connect to the sewage treatment plant from that side of town, as well as building new, higher capacity pump stations at Sixth Street and Roberts Drive.

“What this will do, with bigger pumps and bigger pipe, we’ll be able to move a lot more water. During higher flows we’ll be able to move that to the sewer plant and it won’t overflow into the creek,” Corbitt said.

The project is still being designed and regulators have not given it final approval. As part of the city’s long-term control plan it has been submitted to state and federal regulators who are still reviewing it, Corbitt said.

He said officials are finishing design work and securing funding because the city has a good indication it will be approved.

“That is a project engineers have identified as No. 1 on our list,” he said.

Officials hope to bid the Sixth Street project by the end of the June 30 fiscal year and begin work later this summer. Corbitt said the construction will disrupt traffic on that side of town as the work will take place in the city’s right-of-way.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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