The Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway is a state highway that stretches more than 75 miles, from the rolling fields of Central Kentucky into the mountainous Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky. The winding, two and four-lane roadway 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 the Parkway’s 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 named it as his proudest accomplishment as governor.
The Parkway begins as a four-lane roadway that stretches for 46 miles, from Interstate 64 at Winchester, to Campton. From that point on, the Parkway reduces down to two or three lanes as it extends further east to Salyersville.
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 corridor has provided the primary transportation link to Prestonsburg ever since.
In January 2014, Gov. Steve Beshear and other 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 updated plan calls for widening the Parkway to four lanes, from Campton to Salyersville, and extending a four-lane parkway to Prestonsburg. The completed Parkway will connect near U.S. 23, a four-lane highway that passes through Kentucky and connects Pikeville, Prestonsburg and Paintsville.