Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Announces Removal of Tolls on Audubon Parkway
Administration efficiencies allow for early removal of the tolls
OWENSBORO, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert joined state and local officials in Owensboro today to announce the removal of tolls on the Audubon Parkway.
The announcement signaled the end of paying tolls on Kentucky’s parkway system.
“Removing tolls on Kentucky’s parkways makes travel more convenient for motorists and helps expand economic opportunities for the commonwealth,” said Governor Fletcher. “Eliminating the tolls is an event many citizens in the area have sought for a number of years. Thanks to our efforts to make government more efficient, especially in the Transportation Cabinet, we were able to remove the tolls earlier than anticipated.”
The 23-mile Audubon Parkway, which opened in 1970, connects Owensboro and Henderson. More than 7,500 vehicles travel the parkway daily.
“I am happy to see this day finally arrive, said Rep. Joe Bowen (R-Owensboro). “It’s been an intense effort to get the tolls removed early. The citizens and the companies that have vehicles traveling the Natcher and Audubon parkways deserve this day. This is the first piece of the puzzle in meeting the interstate and highway needs of our community.”
“By removing the tolls, we are taking another step forward in Economic Development in Western Kentucky," said Sen. Dorsey Ridley (D-Henderson).
Kentucky’s toll road system began with legislation in 1950 that created the Turnpike Authority. The authority designed the parkway corridors, sold the bonds to finance the toll facilities and entered into an agreement with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. A total of nine separate toll roads and one toll bridge were open to traffic by 1974. Those toll roads totaled 676.79 miles and cost approximately $900 million to construct. They were designed and built to give access to economically underdeveloped areas not reachable by the interstate system.
“Governor Fletcher hears and understands the concerns of the people,” said Secretary Nighbert. “Many people have said they wanted the last of the tolls in Kentucky removed. We were able to do that earlier than anticipated, thus paving the way for more jobs and other economic opportunities in this area.”
Savings and efficiencies achieved through management of the KYTC led to the additional revenue needed to remove the tolls early from the parkways. Kentucky’s highway system is ranked seventh nationally in the “15th Annual Performance of State Highway Systems Report” published by the Reason Foundation. The ranking is based on the quality and efficiency of cabinet services. Those services include:
- An aggressive highway construction program, with an expected $3.2 billion investment through 2007;
- A savings in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet of more than $70 million in achieved by improved management practices, added to the road fund for projects;
- And the awarding of $150 million to local governments for city street and county road improvements
Work crews are expected to have the toll plaza removed and repairs made to the freeway lanes by the end of the year. Motorists are reminded to use caution in the area as crews perform their work.