FRANKFORT, Ky. – A Bible-belt state hoping to land a biblical theme park that includes a full-size replica of Noah’s Ark approved tax incentives this week to help pay for it.

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority voted unanimously to grant more than $40 million in tax rebates for the $172 million project that’s otherwise being financed by a group of unidentified private investors.

“This was the last real hurdle for us as far as I’m concerned,” said Mike Zovath, co-founder of the Answers in Genesis ministry that previously built the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

The latest project would include a replica of the Tower of Babel, a first century village, theaters, lecture halls, retail shops and restaurants.

Zovath said he expects groundbreaking in August, and three years to completetion.

Rob Hunden, a consultant who reviewed the proposal for the Tourism Development and Finance Authority, said the project is expected to draw nearly 1.4 million visitors a year, and may require the state to widen the Interstate 75 interchange at Williamstown at an additional cost to the state of about $11 million.

Hunden’s projection on visitor numbers was significantly lower than Zovath’s original estimate last year of 1.9 million.

Gov. Steve Beshear has said he favors tax incentives for the ark park that is projected to create 600 to 700 full-time jobs and have an economic impact of more than $250 million in its first year of operation.

The mission of the project, Zovath said, is to lend credence to the biblical account of a catastrophic flood and to dispel doubts that Noah could have fit two of every kind of animal in an ark.