Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Announces Removal of Tolls on the William H. Natcher Parkway

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, November 21, 2006  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Shaunee Lynch

Administration efficiencies allow for early removal of the tolls

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert joined state and local officials today in Bowling Green to announce to removal of the tolls on the William H. Natcher Parkway.

The announcement signaled the end of paying tolls on Kentucky’s parkway system.

“Thanks to our efforts to make government more efficient, especially in the Transportation Cabinet, we are able to offer citizens in the area a road now free of tolls – something these citizens have sought for a number of years,” said Governor Fletcher. “Removing tolls on Kentucky’s parkways makes travel more convenient for motorists and helps expand economic opportunities for the commonwealth.”

The 70-mile William Natcher Parkway, which opened in 1970, connects Bowling Green and Owensboro.  More than 6,510 vehicles travel the parkway daily.  

”I want to personally thank Governor Fletcher and Secretary Nighbert for their leadership in taking off these tolls,” said Rep. Jim DeCesare (R-Bowling Green) “It just goes to show the good fiscal management the administration has had in being able to pay off these bonds and getting the tolls removed sooner than expected.” 

”I am pleased that the people who use the Natcher Parkway every day will have the opportunity to use a parkway that is now free of tolls, like every other parkway across the state,” said Sen. Brett Guthrie (R-Bowling Green). 

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 total investment through 2007;
  • A savings in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet of more than $70 million 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 Morgantown toll plaza removed and the 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.