Governor Steve Beshear and officials from several western Kentucky counties and other states packed the Ballard Convention Center in Madisonville today for the Interstate 69 Conference.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Chief Engineer Steve Waddle gave a rundown of not only the I-69 project, but also other important road items across the Commonwealth.
Waddle mentioned the bridge projects that are so important to Trigg County. Governor Beshear commented on the bridges during his keynote address and said the Kentucky Lake Bridge will be bid out in December and the Lake Barkley bridge about a year after that.
Interstate 69, once completed, will extend from Michigan to the Texas-Mexico border and will include sections of the Pennyrile and Purchase parkways. Some major work remains undone, such as extending the Pennyrile to cross the Ohio River into Indiana, but much of the project is just improving parkways to federal interstate system standards. Officials say the most challenging part of the project is dealing with the I-69/I-24 split in Calvert City. The Transportation Cabinet hopes to finalize a plan for that area in the next few months.
Governor Beshear says I-69 is one of the most important projects going in the commonwealth.
He noted 55 miles of the Western Kentucky Parkway and I-24 have already been designated as I-69.
Governor Beshear talked about the success of the Pennyrile Parkway extension to I-24.
Murray State University College of Business Dean Dr. Tim Todd said 15 of the country's top 25 cargo airports will be accessible by I-69. He believes the highway will mean new jobs and new development in western Kentucky.
Kentucky Department of Tourism Commissioner Michael Mangeot talked about the tourism impact of the designation, saying about 77 percent of traveling is done by automobile in the United States and a majority of that is on the interstate highway system.
Southern Indiana University Associate Provost Dr. Mark Bernhard highlighted the need to improve cell phone service along portions of the route.
Hopkinsville Mayor Dan Kemp and Christian Fiscal Court Magistrates Jim Flemming and Mark Cansler were among those in attendance.