Thursday, January 16, 2014

I-69 Progress continues to move towards Webster County

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
Interstate 69 got a little closer to finally reaching Webster County on Monday when Governor Steve Beshear announced the award of a contract to reconstruct a major interchange in the I-69 Corridor in Hopkins County.

It is one in a series of improvements to bring portions of three Kentucky parkways up to federal interstate highway standards.
“We’re pleased that this project moves us closer to the objective of completing I-69 from Henderson to Fulton over the next several years,” Gov. Beshear said. “The conversion of our parkways to interstate standards is an important part of our work to attract new jobs and improve commerce in western Kentucky along the I-69 Corridor.”
The project was awarded to the team of Rogers Group Inc. & Qk4 Inc. on a low bid of $29,004,662. The target completion date is May 29, 2015.
The project involves a cloverleaf interchange connecting I-69 with the Breathitt-Pennyrile Parkway, south of Madisonville. It will be modified with a “full flow” connection interchange to accommodate traffic moving at modern highway speeds.
I-69 in Kentucky eventually will run north to south from Henderson to Fulton. But it requires improvements to portions of three Kentucky parkways that originally were toll roads – the Breathitt-Pennyrile, Ford-Western Kentucky and Carroll-Purchase. 
Some of the parkway interchanges, like the on and off ramps at Sebree, were built with short, tight ramps to accommodate vehicles stopping at toll booths, not merging into 70 mph freeway traffic.
Those interchanges must be fixed before the road can officially be considered part of the federal interstate system.
A 55-mile segment of the corridor has been completed, from roughly Nortonville to the I-24 Carroll-Purchase interchange at Calvert City, and now bears the red, white and blue shields of I-69.
After the Western Kentucky Parkway/Pennyrile Parkway interchange is completed, that will only leave the Morton’s Gap interchange between Webster County and an I-69 sheild.
“Much work remains in order to fulfill our goal of completing the entire I-69 Corridor from the Ohio River to the Tennessee border,” Gov. Beshear said. “However, this project is a significant step forward and shows our commitment to completing I-69 through Kentucky.”
In October 2011, Gov. Beshear and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez unveiled the first I-69 shield, near Nortonville. Kentucky obtained FHWA approval to convert 38 miles of the former Ford-Western Kentucky Parkway to I-69 as contracts for upgrades were advertised. In addition, 17 miles of I-24, from Eddyville to the Carroll-Purchase Parkway interchange, bears both I-69 and I-24 signage.
The Pennyrile Parkway opened in October of 1969 as a toll road at a cost of $69.2 million. By Kentucky state law, toll collection ceases when enough toll has been collected or funds received from other sources, such as a legislative appropriation, to pay off the construction bonds for the parkway. 
The toll booths were removed in 1992, ten years ahead of schedule, but the parkway exits at Sebree and Mortons Gap have never been redesigned.

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