An Engineering Marvel
The Pikeville Cut-Through Project is an astonishing engineering wonder that has been called “the eighth wonder of the world” by The New York Times. Spearheaded by former Mayor William C. Hambley, the Pikeville Cut-Through Project officially began in November of 1973 with the purpose of relieving the barrage of flooding that the City of Pikeville experienced each year prior. The Cut-Through Project also provided the City of Pikeville with more room for development, due to the relocation of the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River away from downtown Pikeville, and relieved the City of congestion caused by the railroad and the three major highways that passed through it.
The Cut-Through Project was completed in four phases spanning 14 years and cost approximately $80 million. The project created a three-quarter-mile-long channel through Peach Orchard Mountain, in order to provide a path for railroad tracks, the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River and U.S. Highway 23, 460, 119 and KY 80.
During phase one of the project, approximately 13 million cubic yards of rock were blasted from Peach Orchard Mountain at a cost of over $17 million. When the excavation was completed, a channel was created for the Levisa Fork, allowing the river to by-pass Pikeville City. Space was also provided for the railroad.
The second phase began March 4, 1980 and was completed December 1982. During this phase, on September 17, 1980, the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River was rerouted to flow through the Cut-Through. This portion of the project also involved the relocation of the railroad and coal tipples as well as the transportation of 5 million cubic yards of dirt to be used to fill the now dry riverbed channel.
The final two phases began March 15, 1983. This involved the completion of highway interchanges on both ends of the Cut-Through and the construction of Hambley Boulevard along the former railroad bed. An additional 150 acres of usable land resulted from these final phases.
A total of 18 million cubic yards of earth were moved during the entire project, which filled the empty riverbed, creating a total of 400 acres of usable land for Pikeville City’s expansion. The Pikeville Cut-Through Project is a unique engineering feat that provides a shining example of cooperation among agencies on a federal, state and local level. Being the second largest earth removal project in the United States history, the Pikeville Cut-Through Project is a marvel that visitors cannot miss.
The Man Who Moved a Mountain
The Pikeville Cut-Through project was a huge accomplishment for former Mayor William C. Hambley. Hambley meticulously oversaw each phase of the project, navigating this massive undertaking through many challenges and ultimately bringing this vision to life. This project was dear to Hambley’s heart, as he was a leader for the community, and wanted to rid his people of the yearly flooding and congestion that had plagued Pikeville City for years. Indeed, much of Pikeville City’s beauty is owed to Hambley’s mountain-moving vision. Hambley was a well respected physician and surgeon before becoming Mayor of Pikeville City in 1960. Because of his unmatched leadership quality and ability to bring together over 20 federal, state and local agencies to accomplish this lofty goal, a monument was erected in the Pikeville City Park as a tribute to the man who moved a mountain, Mayor William C. Hambley.
Experiencing the Cut-Through
Visitors can expect more than just an astonishing view when visiting the Cut-Through Project overlook. Located on Bob Amos drive, the Cut-Through overlook sits atop a majestic mountain surrounded by beautiful scenery and the Bob Amos Park, which features a rubberized oval walking track, hiking trail, horseshoe arena area, tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields, baseball fields, and a YMCA. Hatfield and McCoy River Trails is also located near the overlook and on weekends features canoeing, paddle boating, tubing, as well as a paintball field. So, for a day of fun, consider having a picnic at the Cut-Through and plan for an enjoyable day of lush scenery and outdoor adventure.
Where to Find Pikeville Cut-Through
Bob Amos Dr.
Pikeville, KY 41501
Phone: (800) 844-7453
Tourism Director: Tony K. Tackett