Tribune-Courier General Manager
Marshall County Fiscal Court last week adopted a resolution in support of efforts to increase the speed limit on the U.S. 68/Ky. 80 corridor which is four lanes through Marshall, Calloway and Graves counties.
The proposal is part of a trend that also targets similar four-lane routes in the Jackson Purchase region, including U.S. 641 in Marshall and Calloway counties and U.S. 45 from just north of Mayfield to Paducah.
The effort to raise the speed limit to 65 miles per hour from 55 began with the Murray/Calloway County Chamber of Commerce after the limit was raised along four-lane portions of the route from Cadiz to Bowling Green last fall.
The chamber then asked the fiscal courts in Calloway, Graves and Marshall counties to adopt resolutions in support of the effort before placing the item on a legislative agenda.
According to Keith Todd of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet the process involves the passage of a legislative resolution. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will then complete speed and traffic pattern studies to determine the effects on safety of such an increase.
An order to raise the limit would have to come from Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock.
State Representative Kenny Imes of Murray is asking for support of a raised speed limit on U.S. 641 from KY 284 to the Purchase Parkway.
The proposals also have the bipartisan support of State Rep. Will Coursey of Benton, as well as State Rep. Richard Heath of Mayfield and State Sen. Stan Humphries of Cadiz.
In Marshall County, Ky. 80 runs from Aurora, where it joins with U.S. 68, to the Calloway County line. It is part of the new route for the state highway, which runs the entire width of the state from Columbus in Hickman County to the Virginia state line near Elkhorn City in Pike County.
Todd said the increase on four-lane areas of the roadway from Cadiz to Bowling Green has been well received and for the most part non-problematic.
Todd said one portion of the roadway near Russellville was changed back to 55 miles per hour just last week as safety concerns began to emerge.
Gov. Steve Beshear supported raising the limit in the Pennyrile area last year.
“This is a well-designed, well-built highway that is a tremendous asset as a four-lane connector,” Beshear said last year. “Companies and motorists increasingly depend 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.”
Calloway County Judge Executive Larry Elkins said he is happy to see support coming through for the effort.
“This is a fast-paced world we live in,” said Elkins. If you watch in many of the areas people are already exceeding the 55 mile per hour limit. This will make it more convenient for people who travel the route.”
For much of its course across the Commonwealth, the state highway is concurrent with U.S. routes 68 and 23and the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway, a future Interstate 66 corridor.
Prior to 2003, the route’s path through the Jackson Purchase ran across the southern edge of Marshall County from Aurora to the Graves County line just past Brewers, where it joined with Ky. 58, and on to Mayfield and beyond.
The old Ky. 80 from Aurora to western Marshall County has been designated Ky. 402.
The original two-lane route continues westward from Mayfield to Columbus.