Governor puts I-69 on the map
NORTONVILLE, Ky. — Standing in the parking lot of Southside Elementary School, a site overlooking the newly designated I-69, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear told the crowd, "What a great day this is for west Kentucky."
It was a day that was a long time in the making, the governor said.
"After a lot of years and a lot of work by a lot of people, we finally get to say we're officially putting Interstate 69 on the map of Kentucky."
His announcement designated a 55-mile section from Eddyville to Nortonville as the first portion of I-69.
In doing so, he believes the Commonwealth will become more attractive to businesses, "This is economic development. It's going to bring more tourism, more jobs to Kentucky and that's what it's all about."
Doing so does come at a price. Guard rails will have to be upgraded, overpass bridges raised and shoulders widened to comply with interstate guidelines.
Beshear promed that would happen. He said contract bids have already gone out.
"We're going to step up and do it right now."
Paducah-based engineer Jim LeFevre said the time for these changes is now.
"What you're going to be getting in the roadways we're making is some safety enhancement."
A combination of state and federal dollars now pay for the project. But Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez was on hand Tuesday to pledge more money as the project moves forward.
Once a bid is selected next Monday, work will get under way. In the coming days, crews will be making repairs along the Purchase Parkway from Calvert City down to U.S. 45 in Mayfield and some areas in Trigg County.
Eventually, I-69 will stretch from the Ohio River to the Tennessee border. The project's completion date is not yet known.