Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway (KY 9004) opened to traffic in 1969 as a toll facility between U.S. 41 in Henderson and U.S. 41 Alternate in Hopkinsville. Originally under the Kentucky Turnpike Authority, tolls were levied along 56 of 71 miles of the parkway until 1992, when the bonds to construct it were paid off ahead of schedule.1 The toll free section of Pennyrile Parkway carried U.S. 41 north from Nortonville to Mortons Gap and Madisonville, until the mid-1990s when the U.S. highway was returned to its original alignment. The parkway was renamed after Edward T. Breathitt on September 13, 2000 in honor of the former Kentucky governor.1 During his tenure as governor (1963-1967), Breathitt continued the work of Bert T. Combs in improving funding for roads and highways, among other services in the state.2 Pennyrile Parkway was among the highways funded during his administration.3
Despite a 1976 approval to extend Pennyrile Parkway from U.S. 41 Alternate (Exit 7) near Hopkinsville south to Interstate 242, the parkway remained unfinished until 2011. Construction began in 2006 to complete the connection with I-24. The first of three phases constructed 1.8 miles from U.S. 41 Alternate to U.S. 68 Bypass around Hopkinsville.4 This stretch was opened to traffic in 2008.1
Phase two of the 7-mile long project opened April 2010, connecting Pennyrile Parkway with Lover’s Lane (Exit 5) and nearby Hopkinsville Convention Center.1 The remaining 4.9 miles of Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway, including the trumpet interchange with I-24, opened to traffic on March 1, 2011. Totaling $101 million3, the project provided much needed relief from traffic congestion along surrounding corridors. As stated by a chief engineer for the Kentucky Department of Highways District 2 in Madisonville,5
As traffic has increased over the years, cross-country trucks and through passenger vehicles created congestion on U.S. 41-A, prompting the need to complete the connection to I-24.
With the parkway finished south of Hopkinsville, efforts commenced in 2011 to petition the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Congress redesignate the section between I-24 and the Western Kentucky Parkway as an I-24 spur.3 Since Pennyrile Parkway north from Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway to Henderson was signed into law as Interstate 696, state legislatures wanted a separate designation for the remaining portion, citing its importance as a regional high-speed corridor.
The U.S. Senate passed an amendment to H.R. 2577 of the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill on May 18, 2016 that designated Pennyrile Parkway as Interstate 169.7 Submitted by U.S. Senator Rand Paul, the I-169 designation7
will increase economic development and opportunities for thousands of Kentuckians.
Future Interstate 169 corridor signs were installed at both ends of the Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway as well as at the Christian/Hopkins County line as of April 23, 2018.8