Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear made a stop in Logan County Tuesday, before heading to Hopkinsville to officially bring news of the speed limit increase on 68-80. The governor began his speech Tuesday, by saying he enjoyed being back in the Logan County area and considered it “God’s country.”
Governor Beshear also told the crowd that gathered at the Extension Office, that he loved them all, and said this was a very exciting announcement that in and of itself may not seem a lot, but would mean a lot for this region.
The governor, joined by area legislators and state and local officials, unveiled highway signs announcing the higher speed limit of 65 mph on strategically located U.S 68/Ky 80 between Cadiz and Bowling Green.
“This is a well-designed, well-built highway that is a tremendous asset as a four-lane connector between Interstate 24 and Interstate 65 across southwestern Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “Companies and motorists increasingly rely on Global Positioning System technology to plan travel routes, and those systems favor routes with higher speed limits. So, for its economic development value, it’s important for U.S. 68 to stand out from other routes that have a speed limit of 55.”
Beshear added that by the speed limit being 55, the GPS’s were routing people in other directions and they were missing out on the hamburgers at Ferrell’s in Cadiz and the barbecue in both Hopkinsville and Logan County.
“Which means we were missing out on dollars,” said Beshear.
At the same time, the Governor said, it was equally important to ensure that a higher speed limit did not create a safety hazard. The decision to raise the speed limit was made only after speed studies and analysis of traffic data by engineers of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) were done.
“This highway has wide shoulders, a wide median, partially controlled access and comparatively few traffic signals. It can easily accommodate a higher speed limit because of its excellent design and construction,” Gov. Beshear said.
Also present at the announcement Tuesday were Congressman Ed Whitfield, Representative Martha Jane King, Representative Jim DeCesare, and members of the Transportation Cabinate.
The governor said he had spoken to several Chambers of Commerce, and also to those around the region who felt the speed limit increase would help bring about economic development. He said representative Martha Jane King had it in her agenda to get this passed.
“I have been proud to work with other officials in Logan and Todd Counties and across the region to make this speed limit increase a reality, so this decision by Governor Steve Beshear and the Transportation Cabinet is definitely welcomed,” said Representative King, of Lewisburg. “While this increase will obviously make travel a little easier for us all, it will also open up economic development opportunities as well as by making it easier to promote what those living here already know: 68/80 is one of the crown jewels in the state highway system.
Another important player in the increase was Tom Harned, Logan Economic Alliance for Development (LEAD) executive director. Representative King said it was Harned who lit a fire under her and convinced her the importance of this change.
“When you talk about economic development and transportation, they are intertwined,” said Harned. “If you don’t have an interstate, which Logan does not, a high quality connector is the next best thing. This means a lot to the entire region,” said Harned, adding that he will now have another tool in his tool box that he can take with him when he is pitching Logan County to perspective industrial clientele.
“We are fortunate to have this high-quality connector highway to I-65 and I-24. An increased speed limit is an advantage on GPS devices and when companies perform mapping calculations. Traffic will now be routed directly east-west on U.S. 68 instead of being sent south to Tennessee. This will be of great benefit to the Bowling Green, Russellville, and Hopkinsville areas,”said Harned.
The speed limit is being increased by order of Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock. The speed limit will be raised to 65 from 55 on 58.75 miles of U.S. 68/KY 80. From west to east, the new speed zone will stretch from a point just east of U.S. 68 Business in Cadiz, through Christian, Todd and Logan Counties to an existing 45 mph zone to the west of Bowling Green.
“I’m pleased to join Governor Beshear for this announcement because it is important that this section of U.S. Highway 68/KY 80 has a speed limit that makes this transportation corridor competitive for economic development and job growth,” said U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield, of Hopkinsville.
Whitfield also said that the focus was on transportation, which is very easy not to think about, but when you think about economic development, it goes a long way.
The speed limit will not be raised on a short, undivided, five-lane section near the I-24 interchange at Cadiz or on sections of the highway that pass through Hopkinsville and Russellville.
Secretary Hancock said it may eventually be possible, after new, four-lane bridges have been constructed over Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, to have a higher speed limit on the four-lane corridor all the way to Mayfield via KY 80.
Transportation crews began installing new speed limit signs on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
“I am glad to see that under the Governor’s initiative that the speed limit is being changed, because it will help to put Western Kentucky on the Google map. This will be good for attracting visitors as well as for economic development,” said Sen. Joey Pendleton, of Hopkinsville. “I hope the other communities with a slower speed limit will maintain those for the safety of the public.”
“This is a great day for our community and the whole region, because it will improve travel times as well as open up more opportunities for economic development,” said Rep. John Tilley, of Hopkinsville. “It’s a win-win for everyone, and a lot of credit goes to the Southern Pennyrile Chamber Alliance for its cooperative efforts to help make this happen. I really appreciate Governor Beshear’s and the Transportation Cabinet’s willingness to listen to our case and then agree to make this change. I am positive this small boost in the speed limit will lead to a big boost for our communities.”
“May of my constituents travel to and from Logan County on a daily basis for work, which is why I pushed for the Transportation Cabinet to increase the speed limit to 65 miles per hour,” said Rep. Jim DeCesare, of Bowling Green. “Not only will this decision help with driver safety on the corridor, it will also act as an economic development enhancer from Bowling Green to Hopkinsville.
“We live in God’s country out here, and the faster people can get here, the better for them,” said Sen. Ken Winters, of Murray.
“Creation of this corridor has been key for commerce and tourism in connecting Interstates 65 and 24,” said Rep. Myron Dossett, of Pembroke. “It is my hope raising the speed limit along with the improved highway can help grow the economy in Christian and surrounding counties.”
“It’s hard to estimate the potential positive economic impact that a 65 mph speed limit will have for our corridor. We are grateful that this is being accomplished and that 68-80 will continue to be a safe thoroughfare while being more accommodating for tourism and business interests,” said Dr. James Selbe, president of Hopkinsville Community College and chair of the Southern Pennyrile Chamber Alliance.
Parts of this story came directly from a press release provided by the governor’s office.