Kentucky reportedly has more miles of freeways outside the Interstate system than any other U.S. state except California. This is a list of Kentucky's 9 state parkways - 7 of which are entirely freeways of at least 4 lanes, with part of another parkway also being a 4-lane freeway. (In other words, most are almost up to Interstate standards, though a few may not qualify for reasons like the median being too high.) All 9 parkways were once toll. The bonds used to pay for building the parkways were gradually paid off, causing the tollbooths to be closed one parkway at a time. This process was finally completed in 2006, and all 9 parkways are now free of cost to travelers.

State parkways carry unsigned, "secret" route numbers in the 9000s.

For several parkways, we have our own clever names, which are listed here.

Audubon Parkway
(KY 9005)

Begin: Edward T Breathitt Pennyrile Pkwy, Henderson
End: US 60, 1.1 mi W of Owensboro city line

23.441 mi:
Henderson 15.883
Daviess 7.558

Cities: Henderson

Major bridges: Green River, Henderson Co-Daviess Co

Companion surface roads: US 60

Likely the most seldom traveled parkway, the Audubon opened in December 1970. Although I-69 isn't even done, Owensboro officials have already petitioned to have the Audubon numbered as I-369. The Audubon had its tolls removed in 2006.

Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway
(KY 9000/9009)


Begin: I-64, .8 mi NE of Winchester city line
End: .408 mi E of Spur KY 15, 1.2 mi NW of Campton city line (bec KY 9009)

42.853 mi:
Clark 11.913
Powell 24.087
Wolfe 6.853

Cities: Clay City, Stanton

Companion surface roads: KY 15

Our name: The Bert


Begin: .408 mi E of Spur KY 15, 1.2 mi NW of Campton city line (bec KY 9000)
End: US 460 & KY 3048, Salyersville

32.813 mi:
Wolfe 14.867
Morgan 5.403
Magoffin 12.543

Cities: Salyersville

Companion surface roads: KY 191, KY 134, US 460

Our name: The Bert

The Bert totals 75.666 miles. However, at mile 42.853 - 0.408 mile east of Spur KY 15 near Campton - the Bert changes from 4-lane to 2-lane and the "secret" designation changes from KY 9000 to KY 9009. The 2-lane part is actually monikered the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway Extension.

The Bert was known as just the Mountain Parkway before being named for Bert T. Combs in 1976. This parkway is labeled KY 402 on some commercial maps, but I never saw it signed as KY 402. In fact, it was "secret" KY 9000 and 9009 before being renumbered KY 114 in April 1985, then KY 402 in August 1985, and then KY 9000 and 9009 again in 1990. The only spot I know of on the official county maps where the Bert was marked as KY 402 was the inset for the village of Slade ("Run runaway, run runaway..."), where you have to get off at the KY 11 exit to use the rest area.

The Bert opened in 1963 and was a toll road until the mid-1980s. It is a 4-lane freeway from Winchester to near Campton, and the 2-lane section to Salyersville is also limited access. Some old maps show a proposed Mountain Parkway splitting up near Campton with 2 legs going to Pikeville and Whitesburg.

Recent plans call for extending this parkway to Prestonsburg, making the entire road 4 lanes, and reinstating tolls to pay for it.

Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway
(KY 9004)

Begin: I-24, 4.8 mi SW of Hopkinsville city line
End: US 41, Henderson

78.306 mi:
Christian 28.095
Hopkins 26.908
Webster 10.302
Henderson 13.001

Cities: Hopkinsville, Nortonville, Mortons Gap, Madisonville, Hanson, Robards, Henderson

Companion surface roads: US 41A, US 41

Our name: The Steady Neddy (from Ned Flanders of The Simpsons)

The Pennyrile Parkway opened in 1969 and lost its tolls in 1992. The road was renamed for a popular former governor in 2000. For years, mile numbers on the Steady Neddy started at 7, for there were 7 more miles proposed to link to I-24 but not yet built. At the time, the road started at US 41A. In 2008, it was finally extended to Byp US 68. It was completed to I-24 in 2011.

Hal Rogers Parkway
(KY 9006)

Begin: US 25 & KY 80, London
End: KY 15 & 80, Hazard

59.088 mi:
Laurel 10.593
Clay 25.336
Leslie 15.097
Perry 8.062

Cities: London, Manchester, Hazard

Companion surface roads: KY 80

This was formerly the Daniel Boone Parkway, which opened in 1971. Most of the road is only 2 lanes and thus is not up to Interstate standards. Though most of this parkway is a 2-lane freeway, the part that runs along the north side of London is not a freeway. Even along the freeway section of the parkway, there are at least 2 at-grade junctions (not counting several near the Hazard end). In 2003 the Daniel Boone had its tolls removed. Later that terrible year it was renamed for Hal Rogers - replacing the name of a frontiersman who helped settle Kentucky with that of a sitting right-wing congressperson. The renaming generated a firestorm of complaints.

Julian M. Carroll Purchase Parkway
(KY 9003)

Begin: TN state line, .2 mi W of Fulton city line (bec US 51)
End: US 62 & KY 1523, Calvert City

52.333 mi:
Fulton 3.434
Hickman 4.918
Graves 26.135
Marshall 17.846

Cities: Fulton, Mayfield, Benton, Calvert City

Companion surface roads: US 45, KY 58, US 641

The Purchase Parkway, in the extreme western part of the state, opened in 1966 and had its tolls removed in 1992. For some reason it was later officially referred to as the Jackson Purchase Parkway. In 2001 it was renamed for former Gov. Julian Carroll. (And then it really got pooped upon. Sorry, folks, that's an inside joke!)

But Julian Carroll had a mullet.

Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway
(KY 9008)

Begin: I-65, 5.4 mi N of Merry Oaks
End: US 27, 1.3 mi N of Somerset city line

88.376 mi:
Barren 22.357
Metcalfe 13.802
Adair 21.632
Russell 14.296
Pulaski 16.289

Cities: Glasgow, Columbia, Russell Sprs

Companion surface roads: KY 80

Our name: The Nickel Louie (from Nunn's raise of the sales tax to 5%)

The Cumberland Parkway was mostly open in 1972; the rest opened in 1973. It was renamed for Louie B. Nunn in 2000. So despised is the GOP that Nickel Louie was the last Republican governor of Kentucky before Ernie "Hey Bert" Fletcher 32 years after Nunn left office. Gee, it must be hard for the Repub-a-dubs when reality beans them right on their misshapen noggins! The toll was removed in 2003.

Though the Nickel Louie is now all freeway, at one time it effectively became a divided surface road for a mile at its Somerset end. But now it's been rerouted onto a new freeway stretch north of town.

Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Parkway
(KY 9002)

Begin: I-65, Elizabethtown
End: US 60, .9 mi W of Gaybourn

71.134 mi:
Hardin 8.837
Nelson 30.43
Washington 5.54
Anderson 7.508
Mercer 3.972
Anderson 5.66
Woodford 9.187

Cities: Elizabethtown, Bardstown

Companion surface roads: US 62

The 1980s plan to extend I-66 into Kentucky would have involved the Blue Grass Parkway, which opened in 1965 and lost its tollbooths in 1991. The I-66 proposal was later moved to the southern part of Kentucky instead. The Blue Grass Parkway was named for Collins, a former governor, in 2003.

Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway
(KY 9001)

Begin: Edward T Breathitt Pkwy, 1.4 mi NE of Nortonville city line (bec I-69)
End: US 31W & KY 61, Elizabethtown

98.47 mi:
Hopkins 5.098
Muhlenberg 22.251
Ohio 21.869
Butler .889
Grayson 31.216
Hardin 17.147

Cities: Central City, Rockport, Leitchfield, Elizabethtown

Major bridges: Green River, Muhlenberg Co-Ohio Co

Companion surface roads: US 62

Our name: Mr. Wendell (from the song "Mr. Wendal" by Arrested Development)

This route went all the way to I-24 until 2011 when the part from I-24 to the Breathitt became I-69. Part of a good alternate route between Memphis and Louisville, the Western Kentucky Parkway mostly opened in 1963 and had the tolls removed in 1987. If there was only one road in Kentucky that should have had the speed limit raised above 65 MPH and been given an Interstate number, the WK was a good candidate: The road is flat and wide and with little traffic but is important enough to be an Interstate. (Kentucky raised the state speed limit to 70 MPH in 2007.) Barring the extension of I-66 or 69, this could have easily been, say, I-58. In 1998 the WK was renamed for the popular Democratic senator. Part of this road near its Eddyville end that opened in 1968 was once the "secret" KY 9010.

William H. Natcher Parkway
(KY 9007)

Begin: US 231, .6 mi SE of Bowling Green city line
End: US 60, .5 mi NW of Owensboro city line

72.264 mi:
Warren 20.246
Butler 16.897
Ohio 24.41
Daviess 10.711

Cities: Bowling Green, Morgantown, Hartford, Owensboro

Major bridges: Green River, Butler Co

Companion surface roads: US 231

Formerly the Green River Parkway, which opened in 1972, this highway was renamed for the late Democratic congressman in 1994. It includes what is probably the longest stretch between exits on any Kentucky highway: 23 miles between Hartford and Owensboro. (I assume no new exits have been built on that stretch recently.) This parkway finally had the tolls removed in 2006. It was extended from I-65 south to US 231 in 2012.

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