A project to officially change the designation of the William H. Natcher Parkway to an interstate spur begins today. Crews will install new interstate shield signs along 72 miles of the William H. Natcher Parkway to now read as Interstate 165.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and U.S. Rep Brett Guthrie announced the initiative to designate the Natcher Parkway as an interstate spur at an event in Owensboro in August of 2016. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Secretary Greg Thomas announced in September of 2018 an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to officially designate the Natcher Parkway as I-165.
“The official designation and signing of the I-165 corridor is an exciting milestone for western Kentucky and the entire Commonwealth,” said Gov. Bevin. “With direct interstate connectivity, communities all along this corridor are well positioned for economic development opportunities and sustained growth. In addition to being economically transformational for the region, the physical upgrades to the roadway will enhance the safety and overall commute for those traveling along I-165.”
The $1.5 million contract for the signing project was awarded to the George B Stone Company, LLC on November 30, 2018. The contractor has been installing sign bases along the corridor for several weeks but the placing of the I-165 shield signs will begin today.
The signing changes are expected to begin in the northbound direction at the I-65 interchange in Bowling Green. Crews will head north along the route changing signs, exit numbers and mile markers from Bowling Green to Owensboro. Once the northbound direction is complete, crews will switch to the southbound side making the sign changes from Owensboro to Bowling Green. The entire process is expected to take up to two weeks, depending on the weather.
Motorists are advised to look for new exit numbers at 11 interchanges. A section of the Natcher Parkway will not be a part of the I-165 designation due to federal guidelines. This section runs from the I-65 interchange to U.S. 231 Scottsville Road in Bowling Green, and it will remain numbered as KY 9007. The Plano Road interchange will be renumbered to Exit 0.
“This transition of the Natcher Parkway to Interstate 165 over the next few months will add an important link to Kentucky’s interstate system,” said Deneatra Henderson, Chief Engineer for KYTC District 2. “The Interstate 165 designation will be especially important to economic development efforts in Owensboro/Daviess County, as well as Hartford, Beaver Dam, Ohio County and the region.”
While the designation of the Natcher Parkway to I-165 is in progress, there are outstanding upgrades to convert the Natcher Parkway. Completing the I-165 corridor requires reconstructing three cloverleaf interchanges designed to accommodate drivers who were slowing and stopping at toll plazas – as opposed to merging with or exiting from 70 mph interstate traffic. These projects include the interchange with KY 69 at Hartford in Ohio County, the U.S. 231 interchange near Cromwell in Butler County, and the U.S. 231 interchange in Warren County.
There is a current project at the interchange with U.S. 31-W and at the interchange at U.S. 68 in Bowling Green to upgrade those areas to meet the federal guidelines for interstate standards. The work at those two interchanges extends the ramp tapers making it safer for motorists to exit on and off the interstate as well as upgrading the bridge walls and bridge decks. There is also an ongoing upgrade project along the Natcher Parkway in Ohio County and Daviess County.