The development of an Interstate-69 corridor in western Kentucky took another step forward with the opening of an extended and widened ramp connecting I-69 southbound lanes to I-24 westbound lanes in Lyon County.

The new ramp is among $9.9 million in improvements scheduled under an agreement between the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Federal Highway Administration by which 38 miles of the former Wendell Ford Western Kentucky Parkway was elevated to Interstate highway status.

The ramp has been closed for the work since June, with I-69 traffic detouring along U.S. 62 through Eddyville to connect with I-24 westbound. Some additional electrical work for new lighting at the interchange will be completed with shoulder closures in coming weeks.

"This new ramp improves safety for motorists on I-69 southbound transitioning to the westbound lanes of Interstate 24," said Jim LeFevre, chief district engineer for Department of Highways District 1, in Paducah. "The new ramp is wider and longer, giving drivers more time to safely merge into westbound traffic flow at Interstate 24 Exit 42."

Another upgrade - work to increase the vertical clearance on an overpass near the Hopkins-Caldwell county line - has also been completed. And work is progressing on a project to increase vertical clearance at the KY 91 and KY 293 overpasses at Princeton.

Traffic on I-69/WK Pkwy at that site remains restricted to two lanes of traffic with completion expected in the next two months. Installation of new signs along the upgraded section is continuing.

"We are also on track to have reconstruction of the KY 109 Interchange at Dawson Springs listed for bidding in October," said Kevin McClearn, chief district engineer for Department of Highways District 2, in Madisonville. "This is a separate item from the $9.9 million in upgrades and signage work we have ongoing this summer, but scheduling of that work was part of our effort to gain the official Interstate 69 designation from FHWA."

McClearn said ongoing upgrades along I-69 include new mile markers and reorienting signage along the roadway from the east-west direction of the WK Parkway to the north-south direction of I-69.