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NewWkPkwy.jpgI-66 (Future).svgI-69 (Future).svg
Western Kentucky Parkway
Length: 136.796 mi[1] (220.152 km)
West end: I-24.svg I-24 near Eddyville
Major
junctions:
US 62.svg US 62 near Eddyville
Edward T Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway Shield.png Pennyrile Pkwy near Nortonville
US 431.svgElongated circle 70.svg US 431/KY 70 near Central City
Natcher Pkwy near Beaver Dam
I-65.svg I-65 in Elizabethtown
East end: US 31W.svgElongated circle 61.svg US 31W/KY 61 in Elizabethtown
Counties: Lyon, Caldwell, Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Butler, Grayson, Hardin
Major cities: Central City, Elizabethtown
Numbered highways in Kentucky
Interstates - U.S. Highways - State Highways

The 136.796-mile (220.152 km) Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway is a controlled-access highway running from Elizabethtown, Kentucky to near Eddyville, Kentucky. It intersects with Interstate 65 at its eastern terminus, and Interstate 24 at its western terminus. It is one of nine highways that are part of the Kentucky parkway system. On May 15, 2006, the section between the Breathitt (Pennyrile) Parkway at Madisonville and Interstate 24 became part of Future Interstate 69; crews installed "Future I-69 Corridor" signs along this segment during the last week of May 2006.

The road was renamed for Wendell H. Ford, a former Kentucky governor and United States Senator, in 1998. Previously, it was simply the Western Kentucky Parkway, and often called the "WK Parkway" because of the abbreviation once used on its signs. The road carries the unsigned designation of Kentucky Route 9001 (WK 9001).

Contents

Route description

The parkway passes the cities of Clarkson, Leitchfield, Caneyville, Beaver Dam, Central City, Madisonville, Dawson Springs, Princeton and Eddyville. The toll plazas were, from west to east:

  • Mile 10, just west of Princeton
  • Exit 24, Dawson Springs
  • Exit 58, Central City
  • Exit 94, Caneyville (toll paid only by traffic exiting eastbound and entering westbound)
  • Exit 107, Leitchfield

At exit 77 near Beaver Dam, the parkway intersects with the William H. Natcher Parkway, which goes from Bowling Green to Owensboro. At exit 37 near Madisonville, the parkway intersects with the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway, which runs from Hopkinsville to Henderson.

A service area featuring a gas station and an Arby's restaurant is located in the median, just west of the interchange with the Natcher Parkway. It is the only such service area in the entire Kentucky parkway system. (Two other service areas were once located on the old Kentucky Turnpike, a toll road from Louisville to Elizabethtown that predated the parkway system and later became part of I-65; they were closed when toll collection ended and the turnpike was officially absorbed into the Interstate Highway system.)

History

The original segment of the parkway was envisioned as a 127-mile (204 km) toll road extending from Elizabethtown to Princeton. The bonds were issued in 1961 and construction wrapped up on the original 127.19 miles (204.69 km) in December 1963 at a cost of $108,548,062. In 1968, construction wrapped up on a 6.60-mile (10.62 km) extension of the Western Kentucky Parkway from Princeton to Interstate 24 in Eddyville coming in at a cost of $5,554,468. The extension was originally proposed to be 10.30 miles (16.58 km) but only 6.60 miles (10.62 km) were constructed, possibly due to a design realignment of Interstate 24 near Eddyville.

The parkway was originally a toll road, as were all Kentucky parkways. State law requires that toll collection ceases when enough tolls are collected to pay off the parkway's construction bonds; that occurred in 1987. It is constructed similar to the Interstate Highway system, though sections do not measure up to current Interstate standards.

Future

Interstate 66

The section of the parkway between the Natcher Parkway interchange to the western terminus is slated to become part of the proposed extension of Interstate 66.

Interstate 69

From the Edward T. Breathitt Parkway in Madisonville to Interstate 24, the Western Kentucky Parkway officially became part of Interstate 69 with the signing of federal highway legislation (see below) on June 6, 2008. To reflect this decision, Kentucky transportation officials have erected "Future I-69" signs between I-24 and the Breathitt Parkway. Because Kentucky is using an existing expressway for I-69, highway officials will likely avoid years of costly environmental studies required by other states because the upgrades are being performed within the footprint of the existing highway.

Funding remains the big issue for upgrading the parkways to interstate standards, as there is no funding in the state's 2006 Six-Year Transportation Plan specifically for I-69. However, it is likely that Kentucky will perform the required upgrades on individual segments of the Western Kentucky Parkway when the pavement reaches the end of its lifespan, through "Pavement Preservation Projects." This approach is similar to the way New York is upgrading its substandard Route 17 Expressway to I-86.

During a pavement preservation project, the existing pavement is removed, repairs are made to the highway's sub-base, and the road is then resurfaced. During such a project bridges and overpasses may be rehabilitated or replaced, drainage systems are upgraded, and other modifications are made to the mainline and interchanges improve safety on the road without completely reconstructing it, allowing it to remain at least partially open during construction.

Evidence that Kentucky may be taking this approach was reflected in a $23 million project completed in 2005 that replaced and upgraded 11 miles (18 km) of pavement. This project was performed on a portion of the parkway that is expected to become part of I-69 west of the interchange with the Breathitt Parkway.

Federal Legislation Designating Parkways as I-69

On May 2, 2008 the House of Representatives passed HR-1195 (SAFETEA-LU Technical Corrections Act of 2008) which designates the Breathitt Parkway from Henderson to Madisonville, and the Western Kentucky Parkway from Madisonville to I-24 at Eddyville as I-69. It further designates the Audubon Parkway as a future spur (I-X69) of I-69 once necessary upgrades are completed. President Bush signed the bill on June 6, 2008, and I-69 signs may begin appearing on the Parkways during the summer of 2008. [2][3][4][5]

Exit list

County Location Mile[1] # Destinations Notes
Lyon Eddyville 0.000 1 I-24 / to Purchase ParkwayPaducah, Nashville Westbound exit and eastbound entrance; signed as exits 1A (east) and 1B (west)
3.702 4 US 62Eddyville
Caldwell Princeton 11.700 12 Elongated circle 91.svgElongated circle 139.svg KY 91/KY 139 - Marion, Princeton Serves Lake Barkley State Resort Park
13.116 13 Elongated circle 293.svg KY 293 - Providence, Princeton
Hopkins Dawson Springs 24.435 24 Elongated circle 109.svg KY 109 - Dawson Springs, Providence Serves Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park
Nortonville 38.311 38 Edward T Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway Shield.png Pennyrile Parkway - Hopkinsville, Madisonville Signed as exits 38A (south) and 38B (north)
Muhlenberg 48.049 48 Elongated circle 175.svg KY 175, Cemetery Road
Powderly 52.518 53 Elongated circle 181.svg KY 181 - Sacramento, Greenville Serves Lake Malone State Park
Central City 57.947 58 US 431 / KY 70Drakesboro, Central City Serves Lake Malone State Park
Ohio Beaver Dam 74.564 75 US 231Beaver Dam, Morgantown
76.757 77 William H. Natcher Parkway - Bowling Green, Owensboro Signed as exits 77A (south) and 77B (north)
Grayson Caneyville 94.225 94 Elongated circle 79.svg KY 79 - Caneyville, Morgantown Serves Rough River Dam State Resort Park
Leitchfield 106.965 107 Elongated circle 259.svg KY 259 - Leitchfield, Brownsville
Clarkson 111.875 112 Elongated circle 224.svg KY 224 - Clarkson, Millerstown Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
Hardin 123.474 124 Elongated circle 84.svg KY 84 - Eastview, White Mills
Elizabethtown 135.816 136 No image.svgBy-pass plate.svg
US 31W.svg US 31W Byp. north - Fort Knox
West end of US 31W Byp. overlap
136.545 137 I-65 / to Bluegrass Parkway - Nashville, Lexington, Louisville Signed as exits 137A (south) and 137B (north)
136.796 US 31W / KY 61Elizabethtown, Hodgenville East end of US 31W Byp. overlap; at-grade intersection

References

External links


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