Governor Steve Beshear today joined with local and state officials in Hopkins County to break ground for reconstruction of an interchange for the Commonwealth's newest interstate highway – I-69.
It is one of several projects included in an agreement between Kentucky and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) by which a section of the former Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway, now designated I-69, will be brought up to interstate standards.
"It exciting to see the beginning of this construction because of its great importance to western Kentucky," Gov. Beshear said. "This is a milestone in our long-range plan for turning parts of our parkway system into an I-69 corridor from the Ohio River to the Tennessee border."
The $5 million construction project in Hopkins County will result in the conversion of the KY 109 interchange at Dawson Springs from a cloverleaf to a diamond. The cloverleaf, designed to accommodate a toll plaza, was typical of interchanges on Kentucky's parkways, all of which began as toll roads. But interstate standards required an interchange with longer ramps.
"I am delighted we are moving forward with this project. The I-69 corridor through western Kentucky offers opportunity for growth in the region," said Sen. Jerry Rhoads, of Madisonville. "This investment will open not only highways, but much needed economic opportunity for western Kentucky."
The Dawson Springs interchange is on the 38-mile section of the former Ford/Western Kentucky Parkway that Gov. Beshear and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez dedicated as I-69 in October 2011. In addition, a 17-mile stretch of I-24 has a dual designation as I-69/I-24. The new I-69 will eventually run from the Ohio River at Henderson to the Tennessee border at Fulton, incorporating parts of two other former toll roads – the Julian Carroll Purchase Parkway and the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway.
"I am excited that one more step toward the completion of the upgrades of our parkway system to I-69 status is being made," said Rep. Brent Yonts, of Greenville. "Likewise, I'm pleased that a Muhlenberg County contractor – Road Builders LLC – was the successful low bidder."
The agreement with FHWA also included upgrading guardrails and bridge rails and raising some overpass bridges to increase clearance. The $10 million project to accomplish these goals began last year.
With those improvements complete and signs for the new I-69 installed, attention can turn to widening paved shoulders and reconstructing the KY 109 interchange at Dawson Springs.
"It will be a major advance for economic development in western Kentucky," Gov. Beshear said.
The project was awarded Nov. 1 to Road Builders LLC, one of three bidders, on a bid of $5,075,495 – $644,721 below the cabinet's estimate. The 1.3-mile project is scheduled to be complete by Dec. 15, 2013.
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