Throwback Thursday – The Interstate Comes to Bowling Green

This week we’re taking a closer look at the history of the interstate highway system and its significance to Bowling Green. Construction of the I-65 interchanges at Scottsville and Cemetery Roads was completed nearly 55 years ago.

Research on transcontinental travel time first started in 1919. Just after WWI, a group of 81 Army vehicles traveled from east coast to west coast on a mission to discover how long it would take. The three thousand mile journey lasted 62 days.

One of the men on this journey was future president Dwight D. Eisenhower. He kept this trip in mind through his wartime years in WWII, living firsthand the importance of solid roads to move across Western Europe.

Congress had been working on a plan for mass public roads since 1939, and by 1944 a plan for the Federal Aid Highway Act was completed. Eisenhower’s support for funding and creating the public roads system went into effect in 1956.

The interstate officially came to Bowling Green in the mid 1960s. Construction blueprints from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet archives show the initial 1964 plans for current day exits 22 and 26. Landscaping plans for both were signed in 1965, putting Bowling Green officially on the I-65 map by 1966.

I-65 has been called the road of gold, bringing a huge economic impact through Bowling Green. 2017 traffic counts indicated more than 55 thousand people traveled thru I-65 in Bowling Green a day. Exits 20, 28 and 30, have been added with city growth.

That’s one of the unusual aspects of the interstate system. A project that officially started over 60 years ago will never be complete. It’s constantly evolving and always under construction, shaping the way we move from place to place in our everyday lives.