Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Unveils I-69 Corridor Designation

Press Release Date:  Monday, May 15, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Jodi Whitaker
Troy Body

Doug Hogan

Signs to go up along 10 county I-69 corridor through western Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Governor Ernie Fletcher and officials from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced today that I-69 Corridor designation signs will be placed on the Pennyrile Parkway, the Western Kentucky Parkway, a section of Interstate 24 and the Purchase Parkway.

Governor Fletcher unveiled new I-69 Corridor designation signs at stops in Madisonville and Mayfield. The governor noted that converting parkways to full interstate highway status over the next several decades will provide a significant boost to economic development all along the 10-county corridor.

“Kentuckians know that our parkways are the equivalent of interstate highways, and they have served us well,” said Governor Fletcher. “When we have investors come to Kentucky from other states and other nations, they sometimes don’t fully understand the place parkways have in our transportation system. Converting the existing parkways in this 10-county corridor to interstate status will improve our competitive position when we try to attract new industries.”

The corridor designation is the next step toward an estimated $616.7 million in new construction and parkway upgrades necessary to establish I-69 from Henderson to Eddyville. While the remainder of the route is still being studied, it is estimated another $180 million would likely be needed to complete the route from Eddyville to Fulton for a total of $796.7 million. The upgrades could be completed in phases allowing the cost be spread over several decades.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert said the challenging part is coming up with the $796.7 million dollars necessary to make the new interstate a reality over the next 20 years or more. 

“We are at a great advantage over some of the other states because the cost of upgrading our parkways will be far less than constructing a new highway from the ground up,” said Sec. Nighbert. “It will take patience and perseverance to make I-69 a reality.   The placement of these new corridor designation signs is the next logical step toward that reality.”

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Hopkinsville) said that continued cooperation between the federal and state government was needed to complete the I-69 project.

“As a member of the Congressional I-69 Caucus, I've worked to secure additional federal dollars for I-69,” said Rep. Whitfield. “The recently enacted Transportation Authorization Bill provides $3.16 billion for Kentucky over the next six years – that’s a 30 percent increase over the last authorization.  I’m hopeful the state will commit the necessary resources to begin upgrading the parkway system as I-69 will serve to greatly enhance economic development opportunities in western Kentucky.”

Chief District Engineer Ted Merryman noted that a recent Economic Development Outlook Study cited by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development showed the importance of both four-lane highways and interstates for new job creation.  “When questioned, 91.4 percent of industries indicated that highway accessibility was either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to their site selection process.  Availability of transportation ranked second behind labor availability as a location factor,” Merryman said.

Sen. David Boswell (D-Sorgho) and Sen. Jerry P. Rhoads (D-Madisonville) attended the unveiling ceremony.

“I have worked on the I-69 project throughout my years in the State Senate, and I am very supportive of it.  It will encourage economic development in the state,” said Sen. Boswell. “In years past, when I served as Commissioner of Agriculture and ran for Lieutenant Governor, improving our interstates was a high priority.  It appears that we are moving in the right direction.”

“This project will greatly enhance the economic potential of Hopkins County and the surrounding area. It will help us with industrial recruitment,” said Sen. Rhoads.  “Hopkins County is located in the center of Western Kentucky and this will further boost our economic potential.  I pledge my support and to work with local and state officials to make this project a reality.”

The I-69 Corridor runs from the I-164 Spur at Evansville, Ind., crossing the Ohio River to Henderson.  That crossing, which would require a new Ohio River bridge, is expected to cost $465 million. 

From Henderson, I-69 will follow the Pennyrile Parkway to eight miles south of Madisonville, then turn west on the Western Kentucky Parkway to Eddyville. From Eddyville, I-69 will run on Interstate 24 to Calvert City, where it turns south on the Purchase Parkway to run through Mayfield to the Kentucky-Tennessee state line at Fulton.

The corridor passes through 10 Kentucky counties, including Henderson, Webster, Hopkins, Caldwell, Lyon, Livingston, Marshall, Graves, Hickman and Fulton.