The Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway is a state highway that stretches more than 75 miles from of the gently rolling fields of Central Kentucky into the mountainous Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky. The winding, two- and four-lane road begins near Winchester and crosses through parts of Clark, Powell, Wolfe, Morgan and Magoffin counties before ending just west of Salyersville.
The creation of the Mountain Parkway was a significant milestone for Kentucky’s transportation system. It opened in 1963 as one of the state’s first toll roads, which created high-speed routes beyond the interstate highway system that was being expanded during that era. Drivers on Kentucky parkways paid tolls until bonds were paid off in the mid-1980s.
The Mountain Parkway provided a modern connection for commerce and travel between rural areas of Eastern Kentucky and more populous areas in Central Kentucky and beyond. The parkway also helped connect visitors to Eastern Kentucky tourism destinations such as Natural Bridge State Resort Park and Jenny Wiley State Resort Park.
At its dedication in November 1963, Gov. Bert Combs – the leading advocate for its creation – called the parkway “an age-old dream of Kentucky’s mountain people” and said it was his proudest accomplishment as governor.
The parkway is a four-lane road for 46 miles, from Interstate 64 at Winchester to Campton. From that point east to Salyersville, the parkway is two lanes with an occasional passing lane..
Originally, the parkway was designed to extend past Salyersville to provide high-speed routes to Pikeville and Hazard. However, the extension was never built and the winding, two-lane KY 114 has provided the primary link to Prestonsburg.
In January 2014, Kentucky leaders announced an aggressive plan to fulfill the original promise of creating a high-speed corridor connecting Eastern Kentucky with the rest of the state. Their plan calls for widening the parkway to four lanes throughout and extending it to Prestonsburg. The completed parkway will connect with U.S. 23, a four-lane highway that passes through Kentucky and connects Pikeville, Prestonsburg and Paintsville.
In 2015, work began on the addition of the Gifford Road interchange, which will serve a planned industrial park, and on the modernization of two interchanges at KY 7 and KY 30. In November, vehicles drove on the first new pavement of the expansion project. Design plans progressed on the Wolfe County segment. The project team continued to involve the public with two meeting seeking feedback on KY 114 alternatives and with the opening of a field office in Salyersville. In all, more than one-third of the Mountain Parkway expansion was under construction or approaching shovel-ready status by the end of 2015.