Western Kentucky Parkway

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Western Kentucky Parkway

Western Kentucky Parkway highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by KYTC
Length98.485 mi[1] (158.496 km)
Major junctions
West end I-69 / I-169 near Nortonville
Major intersections
East end US 31W / KY 61 in Elizabethtown
CountryUnited States
CountiesHopkins, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Butler, Grayson, Hardin
Highway system

The Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway is a 98.5-mile-long (158.5 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 (KY 9001) for its entire length.

Route description

The parkway passes the towns of Nortonville, Graham, Central City, Beaver Dam, Caneyville, Leitchfield, Clarkson, and Eastview. 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. 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.

The highway crosses the line between the Central Time Zone and Eastern Time Zone at the border of Grayson and Hardin counties near Big Clifty.

Service Area

A service area, which featured a gas station and an Arby's restaurant until 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. The name of the roadway was chosen by means of a contest sponsored by the Kentucky Turnpike Authority.[5] 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 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.[6]

Toll plazas

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.[7] It is constructed similar to the Interstate Highway System, though sections do not currently meet all interstate design requirements.[8]

Prior to toll removal, staffed 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.[9]

Interstate 69

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 federal environmental studies since the upgrades are concurrent with 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.[10][11][12][13]

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.[14]

Signage and mile markers were replaced on the 38-mile (61 km) westernmost stretch of the Western Kentucky Parkway in mid-December 2012.[15] The mileposts on the rest of the parkway remained unchanged with the original 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 meet federal design requirements. Previously, I-69 thru traffic had to exit through tight ramps in a substandard cloverleaf.


Interstate 569

Future Interstate 569

LocationNortonvilleBeaver Dam
Length38.446 mi[1] (61.873 km)

On April 3, 2019, Representative James Comer and Senator Mitch McConnell introduced a bill that would designate 38.446 miles (61.873 km) of the Western Kentucky Parkway as an interstate spur of I-69 from the I-69/I-169 (Pennyrile Parkway) interchange near Nortonville to the I-165 (Natcher Parkway) interchange near Beaver Dam. It was originally numbered I-369,[16] but was changed to I-569 in December 2019 as the 369 designation is proposed for the Audubon Parkway.[17] Signage indicating that the highway would become part of the I-569 corridor were unveiled on December 21, 2022 after FHWA approved the new signage on the highway. This section would require spot improvements to upgrade the parkway to interstate standards before I-569 could be signed.[18]

Exit list

I-69 / I-169 south – Fulton, Hopkinsville, Henderson
Western 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, OwensboroI-165 exits 41A-B; signed as exits 77A (south) and 77B (north); cloverleaf interchange
GraysonCaneyville94.225151.64094 KY 79 – Caneyville, MorgantownServes Rough River Dam State Resort Park
Leitchfield106.965172.143107 KY 259 – Leitchfield, BrownsvilleServes Mammoth Cave National Park and Nolin Lake State Park
Clarkson111.875180.045112 KY 224 – Clarkson, MillerstownMillerstown barely exists; signs at interchange on KY 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
KY 3005 east (Ring Road) – Elizabethtown, Ft. Knox
Interchange constructed in 2012

US 31W Byp. north – Fort Knox
Western end of US 31W Bypass concurrency
I-65 to Bluegrass Parkway – Nashville, Lexington, Louisville
I-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
Eastern terminus; eastern end of US 31W Bypass concurrency; southern terminus of US 31W Bypass; at-grade intersection
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b c 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. ^ "It's the Western Kentucky Parkway". Sebree Banner. April 5, 1963 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (1965). Kentucky Official Highway Map (PDF) (Map). Frankfort: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Retrieved December 15, 2015.[full citation needed]
  7. ^ "More state toll roads become free". Kentucky New Era. December 26, 1986. p. 5B – via Google Books.
  8. ^ State-wide Highway Planning Survey (1988). Kentucky Official Highway Map (PDF) (Map). Franfort: Kentucky State Highway Department. Retrieved July 22, 2014.[full citation needed]
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ HR 1195 Text[full citation needed]
  11. ^ "KY I-69 Designation Cruises Through Congress" (Press release). Office of Representative Whitfield. May 4, 2008. Archived from the original on November 4, 2009.
  12. ^ "Interstate 69 Legislation, Tristate Homepage.com". Archived from the original on May 14, 2008.
  13. ^ "President Bush Signs HR 1195" (Press release). The White House. June 6, 2008.
  14. ^ Stinnett, Chuck (October 25, 2011). "Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear Unveils I-69 Signs". Henderson Gleaner. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "Congressman Comer and Senator McConnell Introduce Legislation to Designate I-69 Spur in Muhlenberg and Ohio Counties" (Press release). Office of James Comer. April 3, 2020. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  17. ^ Goffinet, Jared; Holbrook, Tanner (January 2, 2020). "Proposed bill to make W. KY. Pkwy. I-69 spur passes". WFIE. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  18. ^ Mehling, Steve (21 December 2022). "New highway signs mark 'Future I-569 Corridor' unveiled in W. Ky". WFIE. Retrieved 13 May 2023.

External links