Includes 42 miles in Henderson, Hopkins, Webster counties
MADISONVILLE, Ky. (Nov. 16, 2015) — A 42-mile section of the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway in Western Kentucky today was designated part of Interstate 69. The new I-69 designation applies to the northern leg of the Pennyrile Parkway — a 42.6-mile section from the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway to KY 425, south of Henderson.
The Federal Highway Administration conditionally approved its inclusion in the Interstate Highway System in August on the basis of improvements undertaken by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to bring it up to acceptable interstate standards.
“Creating an I-69 corridor through the Pennyrile and Jackson Purchase has been a long, long quest requiring a lot of hard work by a lot of people,” Gov. Steve Beshear said. “And today we can take enormous satisfaction from knowing that we have reached a true milestone.
When complete, the I-69 corridor will run north to south from the Ohio River at Henderson to the Tennessee line at Fulton — approximately 155 miles. In addition to the Pennyrile Parkway, the corridor includes sections of I-24, the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway and the Julian M. Carroll Purchase Parkway.
“Finally achieving Western Kentucky’s long-held dream of an I-69 brings multiple advantages,” Beshear said. “It means a safer, more efficient roadway for the many thousands of travelers who live and work and visit here. It also means the addition of a powerful tool for the development and economy of Western Kentucky.”
Work included reconstruction of two interchanges in the Governor’s native Hopkins County – at Mortons Gap and at the Pennyrile’s connection with the Western Kentucky Parkway and a 55-mile section already designated as I-69. Crews recently completed the latter interchange and opened it to traffic. The Mortons Gap interchange is under construction and scheduled for completion in 2017.
Other upgrades to the parkway included pavement rehabilitation, new lighting, ramp reconstruction, and widening and raising overpass bridges.
Completion of the entire I-69 corridor in Western Kentucky still requires improvements to approximately 52 miles of the Purchase Parkway from Fulton to Calvert City, a 1-mile section of roadway connecting Fulton to Mayfield and a 5-mile section from Henderson to the Indiana state line. No construction timeline has been announced for those sections.
The largest single challenge of the I-69 project has been reconstruction of interchanges built with short, tight ramps for traffic stopping at toll booths. With reconstruction, those interchanges will have the longer ramps and merge lanes needed for traffic entering and exiting 70 mph interstate traffic.