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Construction kickoff on Noah's Ark replica
WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (Joe Webb) -- State tax incentives granted to a religious theme park created controversy but construction work on a replica of Noah's ark will get underway in the coming weeks.
The first phase of the $73 million ark encounter outside Williamstown, Kentucky will take two years to build. In a light rain, some modern-day Noahs did some light dirt work on the ark project August 8th. The heavy equipment, dozers and scrapers, were being staged for an excavation of biblical proportions.
"When you look at the property the grade is going to come down about 20-feet all across this," said Mike Zovath with the Ark Encounter.
One million cubic yards of dirt will be moved to level out the spot for Noah's ark. Hilltops trimmed and valleys filled to build the largest timber frame structure in America.
"The crews have already been out doing erosion control measures getting all that stuff in place before the construction starts. And we expect the dozers to be moving dirt the middle of next week," said Zovath.
They've already built an observation area for donors to watch the ark rise from a grant county pasture. During the peak of construction, seven truckloads of timber will be delivered to the site every day. It will be in the hands of old-school craftsmen who can build the ark "Noah style."
They've been recruiting Amish construction crews from western Pennsylvania, parts of Ohio and Indiana to work on the arc and they think they have 100-150 crew members who are used to timber frame structures. They will start in the middle and build 25 ton sections out to the bow and stern, cubit by cubit for two years.
Construction on the ark project hasn't started until now because of permitting issues and a lack of donations. Earlier this summer, the park got tentative approval on tax breaks from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Ironically, the last permit holding up the work was from the Army Corps of Engineers which devotes a lot of time to flood control issues.
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