HENDERSON, Ky. - As the countdown continues toward the day, later this year, when Henderson is finally on an interstate highway, Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said the credit goes to local, state and federal advocates.
"My boss (Gov. Steve Beshear) thinks it's important," Hancock said during keynote remarks at the Kyndle Annual Celebration dinner. "He's worked the last 71/2 years to make something happen with I-69."
State officials expect the northern section of the Pennyrile Parkway, from Henderson to just south of Madisonville, to be designated as part of Interstate 69 late this year. Being located on an interstate is considered vital for economic development.
"It's one of the most important factors for ease of getting (workers and products) into and out of a community," Hancock said.
Much of Western Kentucky has been served by interstate-like four-lane limited access parkways, including the Pennyrile and Audubon parkways that end in Henderson. But national and global companies often failed to understand that a Kentucky parkway was essentially an interstate.
As a fellow Western Kentucky native, Hancock said, Beshear "knows how hard it was to get off the ground" the effort to upgrade and win federal approval to upgrade portions of the Pennyrile, Western Kentucky and Pennyrile parkways to interstate status.
Hancock also praised the efforts of regional entities such as the coalition of Western Kentucky chambers of commerce called CLINK, as well as former state and federal highway officials who worked on the concept of allowing Kentucky to relabel the Western Kentucky Parkway as I-69 from Nortonville to Eddyville as soon as contracts were awarded to upgrade the roadway to interstate standards.
"We have all the things in place to get I-69 signs in place in Western Kentucky" from Henderson to the Tennessee border, he said.
"Now you are the envy of states like Texas that are copying what was done here," Hancock said.
As the effort to get I-69 to Henderson nears its completion, the next and greater challenge will be to construct an I-69 bridge from Henderson to Evansville.
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