Late last year, Paducah was awarded a $10.4 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant through the U.S Department of Transportation to develop Paducah’s downtown riverfront.

The city of Paducah took a step forward on the Paducah Riverfront Infrastructure Improvement Project this week after receiving a $10.4 million federal grant last year.

City officials introduced an ordinance Tuesday for a $250,000 professional services contract with BFW Engineering & Testing Inc., of Paducah, to perform environmental assessment services for the project. The city has to meet National Environmental Protection Act requirements in order to execute a grant contract with Maritime Administration. MARAD oversees the grant project.

The Paducah City Commission is expected to vote April 14 on the contract.

If approved, BFW’s environmental assessment will be an early step on a long-term plan for Paducah’s downtown riverfront development. The project’s scope includes an excursion pier and plaza, improvements for the transient boat dock’s landing, four intersection improvements and a multi-use pathway.

The project also factors into Paducah’s planned Tax Increment Finance district for downtown, as it requires $20 million in capital investments to activate the TIF mechanism and that may include public investment.

Mayor Brandi Harless called the step “exciting.”

“This means we’re making movement on the project that we were funded by the federal government last fall and so the good news is — even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic — those funds still remain and we will continue to move this project forward,” she said.

“I’m thinking a fairly lengthy timeline, unfortunately, but it will come eventually.”

In early November, Paducah city officials celebrated the $10.4 million award from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, which is through the U.S. Department of Transportation. It’s a competitive grant that requires a $1.1 million match by the city. The environmental assessment isn’t covered by the grant or part of the city’s matching funds.

City Manager Jim Arndt said the city’s BUILD grant match is $1.1 million and it has obligated $1.5 million for the project. The environmental assessment is the “very beginning” and it’ll take place before the design phase. However, the whole project could take several years to complete, according to Arndt.

“It does take a little bit longer after we have to work through the environmental, the design and then do the multiple different bids (and) parts of the construction,” he said. “Of course, we will stay on top of this.”

Arndt compared this step to kickoff for a four-quarter game.

“I think this will be a fantastic addition to our community, one that we’ll be proud of for decades to come,” he said.

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