Western Kentucky Parkway

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Western Kentucky Parkway marker

Western Kentucky Parkway
Route information
Length98.485 mi[1] (158.496 km)
Major junctions
West end I-69 / I-169 near Nortonville
East end US 31W / KY 61 in Elizabethtown
CountiesLyon, 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 seven 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" or "the WK" because of the acronym once used on its signs. The parkway carries the unsigned designation Kentucky Route 9001 (WK 9001) for its entire length.

Route description[edit]

The parkway passes the towns of Clarkson, Leitchfield, Caneyville, Beaver Dam, Central City, and Nortonville. At exit 77 near Beaver Dam, the parkway intersects with Interstate 165 (formerly the William H. Natcher Parkway), which goes from Bowling Green to Owensboro. At exit 38 near Nortonville, at its western terminus, the parkway intersects with Interstate 69, which connects to Henderson, Interstate 24 westbound and Calvert City and Interstate 169, still signed as the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway, which connects the parkway to Hopkinsville and I-24.

A service area, which featured a gas station and a restaurant when it abruptly closed in January 2017 and is now a convenience store, is located in the median, just west of the interchange with I-165. 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. In January 2017, KYTC started a bidding process to find a new vendor and reopen the service area.[2] The bidding was won by regional convenience store chain Huck's, which reopened the area on March 9, 2018 and held a ceremonial reopening on March 16.[3] According to the KYTC, it now features a total of 18 fuel pumps (10 regular, 8 diesel), plus a variety of prepared foods and a restaurant.[4]


The Western Kentucky Parkway's previous shield (1998-2007)

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.[5]

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.[6]

Prior to the removal of the tolls, manned toll plazas were located at mile 10 (now mile 78 of I-69) just west of Princeton, mile 24 (now I-69 exit 92) in Dawson Springs, mile 58 in Central City, and mile 107 in Leitchfield. An additional unmanned toll facility was located at Exit 94 near Caneyville, with tolls paid only by traffic exiting eastbound and entering westbound.[7]

Interstate 69[edit]

Parkway co-signed with I-69 near Dawson Springs, before section was signed only as I-69

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 I-69 with the signing of federal highway legislation (see below) on June 6, 2008. By using an existing expressway for I-69, Kentucky officials avoided years of costly environmental studies because the upgrades are being performed within the footprint of the existing highway. The decision to use it ended talk of a new route for I-69 through Union, Crittenden and Livingston counties along the Ohio River.

On May 2, 2008 the U.S. 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.[8][9][10][11]

In September 2011, Governor Steve Beshear, a native of Dawson Springs, 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.[12]

Signage and mile markers were replaced on the 38-mile (61 km) westernmost stretch of the Western Kentucky Parkway in mid-December 2012.[13] The mileposts on the rest of the parkway remained unchanged, to keep the existing exit numbers.

In a project that began in 2014 and ended in late 2015, the interchange between the parkway and the Pennyrile Parkway was extensively modified to create a curve in the northwest quadrant (for eastbound-to-northbound and southbound-to-westbound traffic on I-69) to satisfy federal requirements. Previously, I-69 thru traffic had to exit through tight ramps in a substandard cloverleaf.

Interstate 369[edit]

On April 3, 2019, Congressman James Comer and Senator Mitch McConnell introduced a bill that would designate 39 miles of the Western Kentucky Parkway as Interstate 369 from the I-69/I-169 (Pennyrile Parkway) interchange to Interstate 165 (Natcher Parkway).[14] This section would require spot improvements to upgrade the parkway to interstate standards before the I-369 designation could be signed.

Exit list[edit]

CountyLocationmi[1]kmOld exitNew exitDestinationsNotes
HopkinsNortonville38.31161.65638106 I-69 / I-169 south – Fulton, Hopkinsville, HendersonWestern terminus; signed as parkway Exit 38A and I-69 Exit 106A (south) and parkway Exit 38B and I-69 Exit 106B (east/north)
MuhlenbergGraham48.04977.32748 KY 175 (Cemetery Road)
Powderly52.51884.52053 KY 181 – Sacramento, GreenvilleServes Lake Malone State Park
Central City57.94793.25758 US 431 / KY 70 – Drakesboro, Central CityServes Lake Malone State Park
OhioBeaver Dam74.564119.99975 US 231 – Beaver Dam, Morgantown
76.757123.52877 I-165 – Bowling Green, OwensboroSigned as exits 77A (south) and 77B (north)
GraysonCaneyville94.225151.64094 KY 79 – Caneyville, MorgantownServes Rough River Dam State Resort Park
Leitchfield106.965172.143107 KY 259 – Leitchfield, BrownsvilleServes Mammoth Cave National Park
Clarkson111.875180.045112 KY 224 – Clarkson, MillerstownMillerstown barely exists; signs at interchange on 224 say it goes to Upton
HardinEastview123.474198.712124 KY 84 – Eastview, White MillsVery near US 62, which roughly parallels the parkway its entire length
Elizabethtown133214133 KY 3005 (Ring Rd.) – Elizabethtown, Ft. KnoxInterchange constructed in 2012; KY 3005 may be extended to Glendale
US 31W Byp. north – Fort Knox
West end of US 31W Bypass concurrency
136.545219.748137 I-65 to Bluegrass Parkway – Nashville, Lexington, LouisvilleI-65 exit 91; signed as exits 137A (south) and 137B (north); former southern terminus of the Kentucky Turnpike, I-65 continued south
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. Archived from the original on April 30, 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2007.
  2. ^ "Popular 'Beaver Dam' rest stop temporarily closes". Paducah, KY: WPSD-TV. January 8, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  3. ^ McFarlin, Shannon (March 9, 2018). "Beaver Dam Rest Area Reopens". Union City, TN: WENK/WTPR. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  4. ^ Martin, John (January 26, 2018). "Beaver Dam Rest Area opening hits delay". Evansville Courier and Press. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  5. ^ Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (1965). Kentucky Official Highway Map (PDF) (Map). Frankfort: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Retrieved December 15, 2015.[full citation needed]
  6. ^ State-wide Highway Planning Survey (1988). Kentucky Official Highway Map (PDF) (Map). Franfort: Kentucky State Highway Department. Retrieved July 22, 2014.[full citation needed]
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ HR 1195 Text[full citation needed]
  9. ^ "KY I-69 Designation Cruises Through Congress" (Press release). Office of Representative Whitfield. May 4, 2008. Archived from the original on November 4, 2009.
  10. ^ Interstate 69 Legislation, Tristate Homepage.com Archived 2008-05-14 at the Wayback Machine[self-published source]
  11. ^ "President Bush Signs HR 1195" (Press release). The White House. June 6, 2008.
  12. ^ Stinnett, Chuck (October 25, 2011). "Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear Unveils I-69 Signs". Henderson Gleaner. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  13. ^ Todd, Keith (December 15, 2012). "I-69 is Official with New Signs and Mile Points in Lyon, Hopkins & Trigg Counties". SurfKY News. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2012.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata