Refreshing Kentucky’s Finest

With the recent snow and bitterly cold temperatures, it is easy to find yourself daydreaming about warmer weather and longer days. We relish the thought of venturing outside beyond running as quickly as possible to and from our cars to our homes, the office or the store. When spring has finally sprung, we can take the opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy what the Bluegrass State has to offer.

A great place to start is by taking advantage of one of the 49 Kentucky State Parks located across the Commonwealth. In an effort to complete safety and aesthetic improvements within the state park system, Governor Matt Bevin implemented the “Refreshing the Finest” campaign in 2016, committing $3.13 million in funding for various renovations. Many of these improvements were carried out during 2016 and 2017, meaning visitors will see a difference on their next trip.

Kentucky Living magazine cover for January 2018Bell Engineering was privileged to work on several of these projects including upgrades to the utilities at Waveland Mansion located in Fayette County, and work at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Whitley County. Each project required a unique approach due to the differences in scope. This process highlights the Bell team’s ability to design projects with regards to the context of their surroundings.

The Waveland Mansion is located just inside the Fayette County line near Lexington, Kentucky. It was constructed prior to the Civil War, and was once part of a 2,000-acre farm that straddled the Fayette-Jessamine County line. Stepping on the property is like stepping back in time–it is a place where the way of life from 200 years ago can be remembered and explored.

The mansion and grounds were experiencing low water pressure, and the intent of the State was to replace the entire water system with a new one. While not an unusual project, this one came with the larger challenge of minimizing impacts on the site as much as possible. The goal was to leave nothing behind that did not fit the
environment of a typical 19th century central Kentucky farm.

To accomplish this, Bell designed the new water system to be constructed with HDPE pipe. This material allowed for construction to be accomplished through directional bore, minimizing the excavation required. The contractor was able to do just that, and the entire system was replaced through four small bore holes. Because open trenches were not used, the site was quickly restored to its natural state following the completion of construction.

Cumberland Falls is located outside of Corbin, Kentucky. Although the area has been inhabited for thousands of years, the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park was established in 1931. Attracting people from around the world, Cumberland Falls is known as the “Niagara of the South,” with water pouring 65 feet over rocks
estimated to be 250 million years old. While the falls are a sight to see year-round, visitors lucky enough to stop by during certain times throughout the year can witness the coveted moonbow. A moonbow is a natural phenomenon where a rainbow is produced by moonlight, rather than sunlight. Moonbows only occur in two
places in the world, Cumberland Falls in Kentucky, and Victoria Falls in Africa.

Bell Engineering has had the opportunity to complete three projects at the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. Two of these involved repairing or installing new railing systems at the falls viewing areas and other work included renovations to the general store and bathhouse.

The Lower Viewing Area project involved the design and construction of structural repairs to the elevated walkway which brings tourists along the cliff-face to two separate viewing areas on the lower side of the falls. The existing railings at the lower viewing areas were dilapidated and there were noticeable structural cracks in the elevated walkways. The existing railings were removed and replaced or repaired to a like-new state as a part of this project. All structural steel was replaced with stainless steel to prevent future corrosion, and the portions of the elevated walkway with structural deficiencies were corrected and new concrete was placed. These improvements provided not only a much-needed face-lift, but also extended the useful life of this portion of the park for years to come.

While the upper viewing area was experiencing many of the same problems and safety concerns as the lower viewing area, it differed in that portions of the upper viewing area actually extend into the Cumberland River just above the falls. Years of flooding had taken a toll on the removable railing system and surrounding stone walls. Bell created a more efficient, custom designed, powder coated aluminum railing system that can be removed and reinstalled in a fraction of the time required by the old system. Bell also designed a new, exposed aggregate concrete walkway that accommodates disabled visitors by providing a closer look at the falls. Absent prior to this project, the installation of this feature will contribute to even more visitors enjoying this natural wonder.

Visit to see pictures of the Cumberland Falls projects and find information on other projects accomplished through the “Refreshing the Finest” campaign.

Somerset ACEC Award

The City of Somerset, Kentucky, and Bell Engineering were presented an Engineering Excellence Grand Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Kentucky for the City of Somerset Water Treatment Plant at the ACEC-KY reception held Wednesday, March 29, 2017 in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Bell Engineering and the City of Somerset began developing the project in 2005. At that time, the City had a variety of issues with the existing water treatment system. Rapid growth in the area meant the plant was quickly approaching its 10 mgd rated capacity. The City had also received a request to change its operational mode from a combination conventional/superpulsator to one treatment type. Finally, proposed regulations were going to impact Somerset’s ability to remain in compliance with the KYDOW.

Bell completed a feasibility study that projected demands through 2040 and determined a 16 mgd membrane filtration treatment plant with improvements at the existing site was the best solution. Membrane filtration offers a small footprint allowing the existing site to be utilized while also creating an absolute barrier to microbial contaminants. Bell worked with local and state representatives to secure funding including a $20,000,000 Rural Development (RD) Grant/Loan package making it the largest ARRA funded water project in the U.S. While Somerset is ineligible for RD funding, Bell determined that 80% of their process water is sold to customers outside the City limits, all of which are eligible to receive RD funds. This lowered the rate increase required to support the project, which was the first since 1993.

Construction of the project was difficult due to tight site conditions and Karst features including a large sinkhole. Site remediation was required to shore the foundation and ultimately the team was able to complete the new structures and re-purpose several existing structures while maintaining full treatment capacity. Finally, construction of the project began on the heels of the recession. This allowed the project not only to impact the water quantity/quality in the region, but also provided a substantial financial boost to the citizens of Somerset and Pulaski County.
Receiving Engineering Excellence Award from ACEC


The University of Kentucky and Bell Engineering were presented an Engineering Excellence Grand Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Kentucky for the UK Nicholasville Road FEMA Flood Mitigation Project at the ACEC-KY reception held Wednesday, March 29, 2017, in Frankfort, Kentucky. This project was also submitted to the national level where it was awarded a National Recognition Award.

Bell Engineering began working with the University of Kentucky in 2012 to alleviate repetitive flooding issues on the south end of campus. Due to increased runoff volume the storm drainage system was, at times, overwhelmed and would then overtop a major urban arterial highway, causing both traffic and safety concerns. The University was awarded a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant to address the need for more detention to control flow rates and reduce flooding.

Bell prepared a detailed evaluation of the watershed including flow monitoring, stormwater modeling, land use determinations/green space protection, and utility needs. The project incorporated several surface and underground detention basins, stream restoration, and bio-swale concepts into a linear stormwater park that provides storage in the upper reaches of the watershed while reducing downstream flooding. There were numerous challenges in achieving these goals, including a need to reduce the peak flow for the 100-year, 24-hour event by over 50 percent. Usable surface areas for detention were at a premium due to the growth of the University. The watershed contains the football stadium, family housing, and a child care center, requiring continuous coordination of multiple stakeholders and causing potential safety concerns for open basins. The owner also wanted a pleasing, park-like feel in this high profile area.

Prior to the project, the watershed had 14.9 acre-feet of detention. There is now 22.7 acre-feet of detention including 13.4 acre-feet in open basins and 9.3 acre-feet in underground detention including underneath parking areas. This project was completed while a separate contract to realign a roadway through the site was constructed and stadium renovations were being completed, requiring coordination with multiple contractors and engineers to accommodate design and construction impacts.
Receiving Engineering Excellence Award from ACEC

McLean NADO Innovation Award

The Green River Area Development District (GRADD) was awarded a 2016 National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Innovation Award for the McLean County Regional Water Plant. The NADO Innovation Award honors significant advances in community and economic development that help improve the quality of life for diverse communities. Esri and NADO are working together to promote innovation for regional governments across the country. More information regarding NADO and the 2016 Innovation Award winners can be found at NADO Innovation Awards 2016.

The McLean County Regional Water Commission (MCRWC), created in 2012, includes the cities of Calhoun, Island, Livermore, and Sacramento, Kentucky; along with the North McLean County Water District and the McLean County Fiscal Court. With a goal of regionalizing the area’s water operations, the commission worked to plan and secure funding for a new 2 mgd conventional water treatment plant. Currently under construction, the project, designed by Bell Engineering, also includes upgrades to the existing raw water intake and raw water pump station at Calhoun, new transmission mains to serve Sacramento and Livermore, and a new booster pumping station to serve the region.

McLean NADO Award map
Bell Engineering worked with the MCRWC and determined that a regional facility would be the most effective and efficient way to provide reliable and affordable water treatment and distribution to the area. Bell’s assistance, along with the cooperation of the local city and county governments, the local water district and state leadership, led to the project being awarded a $1,000,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), a $2,500,000 KIA loan, and $7,416,000 USDA Rural Development (RD) grant and loan.

Greensburg Water Treatment Plant Ribbon Cutting

The City of Greensburg, Kentucky, held a ribbon cutting ceremony September 2, 2016, to mark the completion of the Greensburg Water Treatment Plant Project. The project included design and construction of a new 2 mgd conventional water treatment plant to replace the old plant which had reached the end of its useful life. The existing raw water intake and pumping facility were also replaced and a new high service transmission main now connects the new plant to the existing distribution system. The project was designed to allow for future expansion of both the plant and the intake facilities.

The project was fully funded through $1,000,000 CDBG grant, $2,000,000 EDA grant and $4,694,000 USDA Rural Development grant and loan package. Dignitaries in attendance at the event included Tom Fern, Rural Development State Director; Representative Terry Mills; Brian Smith, Field Representative for Congressman Guthrie’s office; Isaac Myers, Field Representative for the Department of Local Government; Mayor Lisle Cheatham, City of Greensburg; John Frank, Green County Judge Executive; Tad Long, Community Development Manager with the Kentucky League of Cities; Tom Noe, Market President at Forcht Bank; and Roger Sabo, Mortgage Loan Originator with Taylor County Bank. The event was also attended by Greensburg City Councilmembers; Board Members from the Green-Taylor Water District; Joe Smith, Owner of Smith Contractors; Bob Hunter, grant writer; and other Rural Development, community, and utility representatives.

Greensburg Water Treatment Plant Ribbon Cutting