Construction of a Noah's Ark attraction in northern Kentucky is sailing along, and the builders say it will open next year. Answers in Genesis, the Christian ministry leading the project, announced Thursday that the attraction will open to visitors July 7. The massive, 510-foot-long wooden boat is the $90 million first phase of a planned religious theme park. Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham says work on the bow and stern will begin soon, and that the end result "will be the most authentic and realistic reconstruction of Noah's Ark in the world." The state had awarded an $18 million tourism tax incentive to the project before withdrawing it last year over concerns about "religious indoctrination." The ark's builders are suing in federal court to get the incentive back.
But the election of a Republican governor who will take office in 2016 could render the lawsuit moot. Gov.-elect Matt Bevin could drop the court defense and move to place the ark project back in the state tax-rebate program; Bevin has said he supports tax rebates for the project. Answers in Genesis has attracted headlines and controversy for promoting a view that Old Testament stories are true and the Earth is just 6,000 years old. Science educators, including TV star Bill Nye, have criticized the ark project, saying it could divert young people away from taking an interest in science. Nye debated Ham at a widely seen online event last year. Nye said if Noah's Ark had actually been built, it would have been destroyed by the sea.