Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Governor Beshear Unveils New Red, White, Blue Highway Signs for Another 42 Miles of I-69 in Western Kentucky
Pennyrile Parkway in Henderson, Hopkins, Webster counties upgraded to interstate
MADISONVILLE, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear, backed by federal highway officials and dozens of state and local leaders, today unveiled a shiny red, white and blue highway sign marking the long-sought designation of Interstate 69 for a section of the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway.
“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. And today we can take enormous satisfaction from knowing that we have reached a true milestone,” Gov. Beshear said.
Gov. Beshear’s two terms as Kentucky’s highest elected leader ends Dec. 7, and the realization of an I-69 corridor is part of his administration’s impressive legacy.
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,” Gov. 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.”
The Governor today was the featured guest at a “re-branding” ceremony organized by the Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce. It culminated with Gov. Beshear and Thomas Nelson Jr., Kentucky Division administrator for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), peeling away a green-and-white “Future I-69” road sign to reveal a red, white and blue I-69 shield sign beneath it.
State Sen. Dorsey Ridley, of Henderson, said the shiny new shields were a welcome sight.
“They represent the importance of western Kentucky to the vibrancy, economic growth and prosperity of this great state,” Sen. Ridley said. “I have said it before, and I will say it again: I-69 is the most important infrastructure project western Kentucky has seen in decades. I want to thank Gov. Beshear for his leadership and dedication to this very important project, which will open not only highways but much needed economic opportunities for western Kentucky.”
State Rep. Jim Gooch, of Providence, said: “Today’s designation is another major step forward for a project that holds a lot of potential for our region once it is complete. I want to thank Gov. Beshear, the Transportation Cabinet and my fellow House and Senate members for their support in making this possible, and I look forward to doing all I can to work with others to finish the remaining work. No other project will do more to boost our economy and tourism than this.”
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 FHWA 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.
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.