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Kentucky’s parkway system consists of nine highways across the state. These highways were constructed during the 1960s and ‘70s to augment the state’s interstate highways. From the Mississippi valley of the Jackson Purchase to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, these over 650 miles of freeway-grade highways serve almost every region from the state.

All of the parkways were constructed as toll roads; between, the completion of the Natcher and Cumberland Parkways in 1972 and the lifting of tolls from the Kentucky Turnpike in 1976, Kentucky had ten toll highways. At one point, Kentucky had more miles of toll roads than any other state. Beginning with the Mountain Parkway in 1985, tolls have been removed from all but two of the parkways as their construction bonds were paid off. The parkway system includes 648.456 miles of highways.

Construction of the parkways was directed by the Kentucky Turnpike Authority.

All of the parkways were originally named with names of local significance. In 1976, former Gov. Bert T. Combs was honored by the addition of his name to the Mountain Parkway. Nearly twenty-years later in 1994, a second parkway was renamed. The Green River Parkway was renamed the William H. Natcher Parkway in memory of the late-U.S. congressman. That set off chain of name changes that has now touched all but the Audubon Parkway. Every other parkway has now been named in honor of some politician. The only change to meet with much opposition has been the renaming of the Daniel Boone Parkway as the Hal Rogers Parkway. This renaming was different because Hal Rogers is still serving in congress, and this was the only example of the parkway’s original name being entirely replaced.

None of Kentucky’s parkways carry any regular state or US highway number; they are only identified by their formal names. They are all assigned “secret” identification numbers used in transportation cabinet reports.

Unlike roads called parkways in other states, Kentucky’s parkways are not closed to commercial traffic.

Some also suggest that the parkways be converted into interstates; however, none of the parkways meet modern interstate standards. None of them could become interstates without a significant amount of reconstruction. That said plans are for parts of the Cumberland, Natcher, and Western Kentucky Parkways to become part of Interstate 66 and for parts of the Pennyrile, Western Kentucky, and Purchase Parkways to become part of Interstate 69.

Audubon Parkway Martha Layne Collins Blue Grass Parkway Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway Daniel Boone Parkway/Hal Rogers Parkway Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway
William H. Natcher Parkway Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway Julian M. Carroll Purchase Parkway Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway

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Related news topics: [Interstates] [Kentucky Turnpike] [State Routes]

Parkways News Items

[Commonwealth of Kentucky]
Tolls to be Lifted on Natcher and Audubon Parkways in Fiscal Year 2007
Posted: 5-Feb-2006 2:28AM CST

Tolls are set to be lifted on the William H. Natcher Parkway and Audubon Parkway, Kentucky’s last two remaining toll roads, in the states fiscal year 2007, which begins July 1, 2006. The exact date that tolls will be lifted has yet to have been established: Lexington Herald-Leader: Last 2 Kentucky toll parkways set to be freed up (Dec. 24, 2005) [Outside Link]

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Winter Storm Aftermath Continues
Posted: 24-Dec-2004 3:20PM CST

Two days after a winter storm dumped record amounts of snow and ice on much of western and northern Kentucky, the commonwealth is still recovering. As of the time of this writing, the state highway information system reports that I-24 remains closed between Exit 25 (the Jullian M. Carroll Purchase Parkway in Marshall County) and Exit 65 (US 68/KY 80 in Trigg County). Kentucky’s other interstates and parkways are open; however, many stretches remain ice covered and the shoulders are dotted with abandoned vehicles. WBKO in Bowling Green reports that traffic is moving very slowly on I-65 and that the highway is still covered in ice near Elizabethtown. In many places, secondary roadways remain covered by snow and ice, and many roads are impassible.

Information regarding current conditions on Kentucky’s highways can be obtained by calling 1-800-RDREPORT, by calling 511 from an in-state telephone, or by visiting ww.511.ky.gov [Outside Link].

More information: Courier-Journal: The big chill: Cold expected to hinder cleanup after storm (Dec. 24, 2004) [Outside Link], Courier-Journal: National Guard called to help stranded motorists (Dec. 24, 2004) [Outside Link], Courier-Journal: Road crews, others struggle to clear roads, unclog snarls (Dec. 24, 2004) [Outside Link], Lexington Herald-Leader: Traffic woes, power outages across state are storm's legacy (Dec. 24, 2004) [Outside Link], The (Henderson) Gleaner: Many autos abandoned; even highway crews having tough time (Dec. 24, 2004) [Outside Link], Associated Press: Stranded vehicles block part of I-64 (Dec. 24, 2004) [Outside Link], Cincinnati Enquirer: 'Cut in the hill' unkindest in snow; Interstate 71/75 bottleneck snares traffic for hours (Dec. 24, 2004) [Outside Link], Murray Ledger & Times: Snow causes plenty of headaches (Dec. 23, 2004) [Outside Link], (Hopkinsville) Kentucky New Era: White Christmas; Still slow going on snowy roads (Dec. 24, 2004) [Outside Link], Courier-Journal: Buses go where snowbound drivers fear to tread (Dec. 24, 2004) [Outside Link], The (Henderson) Gleaner: Santa on a tractor: Residents shovel, cope, and help each other (Dec. 24, 2004) [Outside Link]

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[Commonwealth of Kentucky]
Former Governor Louie B. Nunn Dies
Posted: 30-Jan-2004 10:05PM CST

Former Governor Louie B. Nunn (1924-2004) died of heart failure yesterday, Thursday, January 29, 2004. He was 79. Gov. Nunn is remembered, among other things, for his contribution to the state's highway system. He proposed building roads connecting the state from east-to-west; during his term as governor from 1967-1971 more toll road bonds were issued to pay for highway construction than during the previous two administrations.

During his term of office, I-65, I-71, and I-75 were completed; a total of 585 miles of interstate highways were opened; and the Audubon Parkway and Daniel Boone Parkways were approved for construction. Additionally, planning work for the Cumberland Parkway and Green River Parkway (now Natcher Parkway) began.

More information: Courier-Journal: Former governor, force in GOP, dies (Jan. 30, 2004) [Outside Link], Associated Press: Highlights of Nunn's Term (Jan. 30, 2004) [Outside Link], Associated Press: Former Gov. Louie B. Nunn dead at 79 (Jan. 30, 2004) [Outside Link], Associated Press: GOP pioneer Nunn dead (Jan. 30, 2004) [Outside Link], Kentucky Post: Nunn legacy remembered here (Jan. 30, 2004) [Outside Link]

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[Commonwealth of Kentucky]
Toll Road "Credits" to be Used to Fund LexTran and TARC
Posted: 15-Nov-2003 8:32AM CST

The commonwealth will use a provision of the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) to receive federal money to fund LexTran and TARC. The ISTEA allows states to use money spent constructing toll roads that are now part of the National Highway System to be used as credits to receive federal matching funds. Usually, states must match 20% of the federal money applied to highway and transit project; however, Kentucky will use credits accumulated through the construction of the Kentucky Turnpike and parkway system in place of the 20% state matching funds.

More information: KYTC Press Release: LexTran and TARC Public Transit Systems Receive Funding through Toll Road Monies (Nov. 12, 2003) [Outside Link]

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Updated: 5-Feb-2006 2:28AM CST

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