Western Kentucky Parkway

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Western Kentucky Parkway marker

Western Kentucky Parkway
Route information
Length: 98.485 mi[1] (158.496 km)
Major junctions
West end: I-69 / I-169 near Nortonville
East end: US 31W / KY 61 in Elizabethtown
Counties: Lyon, Caldwell, Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Butler, Grayson, Hardin
Highway system

The Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway is a 98.485-mile-long (158.496 km) controlled-access highway running from Elizabethtown, Kentucky to near Nortonville, Kentucky. It intersects with Interstate 65 (I-65) at its eastern terminus, and I-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 Kentucky Route 9001 (WK 9001) for its entire length.

Route description[edit]

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 Interstate 69 and Interstate 169, which connects the parkway to Hopkinsville, Henderson, and Calvert City.

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.[2]


The Western Kentucky Parkway's previous shield

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.[3]

Toll plazas[edit]

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.[4]

Prior to the removal of the tolls, toll plazas were located at mile 10 (now mile 78) just west of Princeton, mile 24 (now exit 92) in Dawson Springs, mile 58 in Central City, mile 94 in Caneyville, and mile 107 in Leitchfield.[5]

Interstate 69[edit]

Western Kentucky Parkway co-signed with I-69 near Dawson Springs, KY

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.[6][7][8][9]

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.[10]

Signage and mile markers were replaced on the 38-mile (61 km) stretch of the Western Kentucky Parkway in mid-December 2012.[11]

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.

Exit list[edit]

County Location mi[1] km Old exit New exit Destinations Notes
Hopkins Nortonville 38.311 61.656 38 106 I-69 / I-169 south – Fulton, Hopkinsville, Henderson Western terminus; signed as exits 38A (106A) (south) and 38B (106B) (east/north)
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 Interchange constructed in 2012
Elizabethtown 135.816 218.575 136
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).
136.796 220.152
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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Division of Planning. "Highway Information System Official Milepoint Route Log Extract". Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Retrieved April 8, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Popular 'Beaver Dam' rest stop temporarily closes". Paducah, KY: WPSD-TV. January 8, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  3. ^ Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (1965). Kentucky Official Highway Map (PDF) (Map). Frankfort: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Retrieved December 15, 2015. [full citation needed]
  4. ^ State-wide Highway Planning Survey (1988). Kentucky Official Highway Map (PDF) (Map). Franfort: Kentucky State Highway Department. Retrieved July 22, 2014. [full citation needed]
  5. ^ Kentucky Department of Transportation (1976). Kentucky Official Highway and Parkway Map (PDF) (Map). c. 1:760,320. Frankfort: Kentucky Department of Transportation. Western Kentucky Parkway toll schedule inset. 
  6. ^ HR 1195 Text[full citation needed]
  7. ^ "KY I-69 Designation Cruises Through Congress" (Press release). Office of Representative Whitfield. May 4, 2008. 
  8. ^ Interstate 69 Legislation, Tristate Homepage.com[self-published source]
  9. ^ "President Bush Signs HR 1195" (Press release). The White House. June 6, 2008. 
  10. ^ Stinnett, Chuck (October 25, 2011). "Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear Unveils I-69 Signs". Henderson Gleaner. Retrieved October 26, 2011. 
  11. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google

KML is from Wikidata