Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Today, a grand opening and ribbon cutting was held at the Kentucky Transpark to celebrate the new Interstate-65 interchange, Exit 30. Chamber officials, representatives from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Inter-modal Transportation Authority gathered along with local business leaders and federal, state, and local officials at the exchange, which is only a few miles away from the southern Edmonson County line.
This $66.8 million project will provide direct access to I-65 for companies in northern Warren County, including those in the Kentucky Transpark and Scotty's Industrial Park. According to the BG Chamber, all previous industrial traffic was forced to access both parks via Exit 28, near the General Motors' Bowling Green Assembly Plant and the National Corvette Museum, approximately four miles away. The new connector road is four lanes, with the ability to be expanded to six lanes in the future.
"The Commonwealth's transportation systems, together with our geography, climate, workforce and other distinct advantages, make Kentucky a world-class place to do business. This new I-65 interchange will further position the Bowling Green region for sustained economic development and job growth," said Gov. Matt Bevin.
Senator Mitch McConnell also spoke at today's ribbon cutting.
"The opening of this I-65 interchange is a landmark achievement for Warren County," said Senator McConnell. "The Kentucky Transpark is an economic driver for South Central Kentucky, and Exit 30 will help the region continue to prosper. I was proud to partner with community and state leaders to make this interchange a reality, and I am grateful for their dedication to this project. Because of their work, this interchange will help support jobs, investment, and economic development to our state."
Phase I of the project features a new interchange on I-65 with a new exit numbered 30. The connector road from I-65 to U.S. 68 is a four-lane section with a divided median with future expansion possible to six lanes. Phase II of the project, expected to open in 2018, will extend the connector road from U.S. 68 to U.S. 31-W and will be a two-lane section with the option to expand to four lanes.
The project serves as the front door to the Kentucky Transpark, an industrial business area featuring regional, national and international outreach. As of April, the Transpark supports more than 2,600 jobs, which will have a $5.9 billion economic impact on South Central Kentucky over the next 10 years. Since 2011, 300 acres and 1.1 million square feet of industrial space have been developed within the Kentucky Transpark. It is home to two state-of-the-art vocational-based education facilities and eight of the region’s targeted industries. The surge in the once rural area has provided residents and commuters with many options for employment and commerce. However, with large growth comes the challenge of managing traffic changes and increased traffic volumes.
According to the KY Transportation Cabinet, District 3, traffic volume on I-65 in northern Warren County has more than doubled to more than 50,000 vehicles per day since 1988, with many of those being commercial vehicles. U.S. 31-W handles about 22,000 vehicles per day in the urban area.
One of the main highways servicing the Transpark is U.S. 68, which carries about 4,900 vehicles per day, and KY 446, which is exit 28 on I-65, which carries approximately 17,500 vehicles per day. The opening of the new I-65 interchange with the connector road gives residents and commuters another access point to northern Warren County and gives commercial vehicles a safer, more reliable route to serve the industries in the area.
“Warren County and South Central Kentucky is growing rapidly and it is important that our infrastructure keeps pace with our economic growth,” said Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Brownsville, Chairman of House Committee on Local Government. “The completion of this interchange will benefit economic development in our area and I commend all those involved. Quality infrastructure is necessary for creating jobs and I will continue to advocate for a modern transportation system that makes our region attractive.”