Western Kentucky Parkway
|Length:||136.796 mi (220.152 km)|
|West end:||I-69 / Pennyrile Parkway near Nortonville|
|East end:||US 31W / KY 61 in Elizabethtown|
|Counties:||Lyon, Caldwell, Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Butler, Grayson, Hardin|
The 136.796-mile (220.152 km) Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway is a controlled-access highway running from Elizabethtown, Kentucky to near Nortonville, Kentucky. It intersects with Interstate 65 at its eastern terminus, and Interstate 69 at its western terminus. It is one of nine highways that are part of the Kentucky parkway system. 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 Western Kentucky Parkway carries the unsigned designation of Kentucky Route 9001 (WK 9001) for its entire length.
The parkway passes the cities of Clarkson, Leitchfield, Caneyville, Beaver Dam, Central City, Madisonville, Dawson Springs, Princeton, and Eddyville. At exit 77 near Beaver Dam, the parkway intersects with the William H. Natcher Parkway, which goes from Bowling Green to Owensboro. At exit 38 near Madisonville, at its western terminus, the parkway intersects with the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway, which runs from Hopkinsville to Henderson.
The toll plazas were, from west to east:
- Mile 78 (formerly Mile 10), just west of Princeton. Although this toll plaza was demolished shortly after the road became a freeway, its former location could still be seen in the form of a widened shoulder, which was not removed until 2012.
- Exit 92 (formerly Exit 24), Dawson Springs
- Exit 58, Central City
- Exit 94, Caneyville (toll paid only by traffic exiting eastbound and entering westbound)
- Exit 107, Leitchfield
A service area, which featured a gas station and an Arby's restaurant when it abruptly closed in January 2017, 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.) It was initially reported that the closure was permanent, but a spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) soon indicated that the closure was temporary. As of March 2017, KYTC has begun a bidding process to find a new vendor and reopen the service area.
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. 
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.
From the Pennyrile 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 Pennyrile Parkway. Because Kentucky is using an existing expressway for I-69, highway officials avoided years of costly environmental studies required by other states because the upgrades are being performed within the footprint of the existing highway.
On May 2, 2008 the House of Representatives passed HR 1195 (SAFETEA-LU Technical Corrections Act of 2008) which designates the Pennyrile 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 George W. Bush signed the bill on June 6, 2008.
In September 2011, Governor Steve Beshear announced an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), officially designating this section as I-69, effective September 30, 2011. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet unveiled I-69 signs along the route on October 25, 2011.
Signage and mile markers were replaced on the 38-mile (61 km) stretch of the Western Kentucky Parkway in mid-December 2012.
In a project that began in 2014 and ended in late 2015, the interchange between the Western Kentucky Parkway and the Pennyrile Parkway was extensively modified. The project involved building a new curve in the northwest quadrant (for the eastbound-to-northbound and southbound-to-westbound maneuvers) to satisfy I-69's transfer between the Western Kentucky and the Pennyrile Parkways. Previously, I-69 through traffic had to exit through a tight, substandard cloverleaf interchange.
|County||Location||mi||km||Old exit||New exit||Destinations||Notes|
|Hopkins||Nortonville||38.311||61.656||38||106||I-69 north / Pennyrile Parkway – Hopkinsville, Madisonville||Signed as exits 38A (106A) (south) and 38B (106B) (east/north); east end of I-69 overlap|
|Muhlenberg||||48.049||77.327||48||KY 175 (Cemetery Road)|
|Powderly||52.518||84.520||53||KY 181 – Sacramento, Greenville||Serves Lake Malone State Park|
|Central City||57.947||93.257||58||US 431 / KY 70 – Drakesboro, Central City||Serves Lake Malone State Park|
|Ohio||Beaver Dam||74.564||119.999||75||US 231 – Beaver Dam, Morgantown|
|76.757||123.528||77||Natcher Parkway – Bowling Green, Owensboro||Signed as exits 77A (south) and 77B (north)|
|Grayson||Caneyville||94.225||151.640||94||KY 79 – Caneyville, Morgantown||Serves Rough River Dam State Resort Park|
|Leitchfield||106.965||172.143||107||KY 259 – Leitchfield, Brownsville|
|Clarkson||111.875||180.045||112||KY 224 – Clarkson, Millerstown|
|Hardin||||123.474||198.712||124||KY 84 – Eastview, White Mills|
|Elizabethtown||133||214||133||KY 3005 (Ring Road) – Elizabethtown, Fort Knox|
US 31W Byp. north – Fort Knox
|West end of US 31W Byp. concurrency|
|136.545||219.748||137||I-65 to Bluegrass Parkway – Nashville, Lexington, Louisville||I-65 exit 91; signed as exits 137A (south) and 137B (north).|
US 31W / US 31W Byp. south / KY 61 – Elizabethtown, Hodgenville
|East end of US 31W Byp. concurrency; at-grade intersection|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- Division of Planning. "Highway Information System Official Milepoint Route Log Extract". Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Retrieved April 8, 2007.
- "Popular 'Beaver Dam' rest stop temporarily closes". Paducah, KY: WPSD-TV. January 8, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
- Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (1965). Kentucky Official Highway Map (PDF) (Map). Frankfort: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Retrieved December 15, 2015.[full citation needed]
- State-wide Highway Planning Survey (1988). Kentucky Official Highway Map (PDF) (Map). Franfort: Kentucky State Highway Department. Retrieved July 22, 2014.[full citation needed]
- HR 1195 Text[full citation needed]
- "KY I-69 Designation Cruises Through Congress" (Press release). Office of Representative Whitfield. May 4, 2008.
- Interstate 69 Legislation, Tristate Homepage.com[self-published source]
- "President Bush Signs HR 1195" (Press release). The White House. June 6, 2008.
- Stinnett, Chuck (October 25, 2011). "Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear Unveils I-69 Signs". Henderson Gleaner. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
- Todd, Keith (December 15, 2012). "I-69 is Official with New Signs and Mile Points in Lyon, Hopkins & Trigg Counties". SurfKY News. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway at KentuckyRoads.com