Governor Steve Beshear Friday announced the award of a contract for more of the improvements needed to bring the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway up to interstate highway standards and eventual designation as Interstate 69.
The project involves reconstruction of the interchange at Mortons Gap in Hopkins. The existing interchange will be converted to a diamond interchange to accommodate traffic moving at modern highway speeds. Road Builders LLC was awarded the contract on a low bid of $14.04 million. The project has a completion date of June 1, 2017. The project area covers about 1 mile.
“This is another important step in the I-69 Corridor project through western Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said. “It will result in an interchange that meets federal interstate standards and get us even closer to completion.”
Reconstruction of the interchange is part of a larger project to upgrade a portion of the Pennyrile Parkway to become part of I-69. When the corridor is complete, I-69 will run north to south from the Ohio River at Henderson to the Tennessee line at Fulton. In addition to the Pennyrile Parkway, the corridor includes sections of I-24, the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway and the Julian M. Carroll Purchase Parkway.
One of the main challenges of the I-69 project has been the need to rebuild interchanges that were designed to accommodate drivers who were slowing and stopping at toll plazas – as opposed to merging with or exiting from 70 mph interstate traffic. The Mortons Gap interchange was among nine targeted for reconstruction. Five other interchanges are completed or under construction.
To date, 55 miles of the corridor are complete – from roughly Nortonville (Hopkins County) to the interchange of I-24 and the Purchase Parkway near Calvert City (Marshall County) – and bear the red, white and blue shields of I-69. The first shield was unveiled by Gov. Beshear and then-Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez in October 2011.