State Route 80 in Kentucky
State Route 80 or KY 80 is a state route in the U.S. state of Kentucky. The road forms a very long east-west route through the south of the state, from Columbus on the Mississippi River to the border with Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains. The road passes through regional towns such as Bowling Green and London. The road has been constructed as a 2×2 divided highway over fairly large distances, but also has longer double numberings with other roads. The total length is 778 kilometers, making it the longest state route in Kentucky.
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State Route 80 begins in the village of Columbus, a small town on the Mississippi River. In this region there is no bridge connection over the river, so there is no logical western extension. The road heads east to Mayfield over 40 miles away, where the road connects to Interstate 69. From Mayfield, State Route 80 is a 2×2 divided highway over a modern route. The road travels east through Murray for nearly 40 miles in 2×2 lanes to Kentucky Lake, where a long double-numbered US 68 begins.
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US 68/KY 80 at Russellville.
See also US 68 in Kentucky.
State Route 80 then merges with US 68 for a distance of 250 kilometers from Aurora to Edmonton. This section crosses western Kentucky’s two reservoirs, Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, passing through the largest towns on the route, Hopkinsville and Bowling Green. Almost the entire route is a 2×2 divided highway. East of Bowling Green, the Cumberland Parkway runs parallel to State Route 80, this section is more secondary in nature and leads through wooded and hilly areas. The Cumberland Parkway ends at Somerset, to the east of which State Route 80 forms the main route as a 2×2 divided highway through wooded and hilly area to London, where it connects to Interstate 75.is.
East of London, State Route 80 runs as a single-lane road through the Appalachian Mountains. The Hal Rogers Parkway runs parallel to this as far as Hazard, so State Route 80 here has a mainly local character. East of Hazard, State Route 80 takes over this function and is a fairly fast 2×2 divided highway through the wooded hills to US 23 north of Martin.
From Martin, State Route 80 coincides with US 23 as far as Shelbania. This part leads in a southeasterly direction and is also a 2×2 divided highway. This part leads past the regional town of Pikeville. State Route 80 branches off at Shelbania and follows a secondary route to the Virginia border. The US 460 leads parallel here as a higher-quality road connection. After Elkhorn City, the Virginia border follows, where a state route continues to Breaks and other villages in the isolated Appalachian Mountains.
The Eggner’s Ferry Bridge.
Originally, State Route 80 only ran in the eastern half of Kentucky, going east from Bowling Green. In about 1950, the route was extended westward to Columbus, creating a 250-mile double numbering route with US 68. The official length is shorter than the actual distance between the start and end point because official catalogs do not include the heavy double numbering of the road.
Some stretches of State Route 80 have been bypassed by higher quality roads. In the middle of Kentucky, this concerns the 143 kilometer long Cumberland Parkway between I-65 and Somerset, this highway was opened in the period 1972-1973 and was originally a toll road. To the east, the Hal Rogers Parkway has been constructed parallel to State Route 80 between London and Hazard, a 95-kilometer-long super two that also opened as a toll road in 1971. The intermediate section from Somerset to London has also been formally part of the Hal Rogers Parkway since 2015 and does coincide with State Route 80.
The section from Somerset to London was constructed in the 1970s as an entirely new connection, the middle section of which has, however, remained single-lane. Unlike the Cumberland Parkway or the original Hal Rogers Parkway, this was not a grade separated road.
In the Appalachian Mountains, State Route 80 as part of US 23 and Corridor B of the Appalachian Development Highway System has been upgraded to a 2×2 divided highway with partially grade separated connections. In 2020, the Virginia border stretch opened as the US 460 Connector parallel to State Route 80.
In western Kentucky, a long stretch from Mayfield to Bowling Green has been widened to 2×2 lanes. This largely coincides with US 68, the widening of this section was completed in the late 1990s. The westernmost portion of this between Mayfield and US 68 at Aurora has been constructed over 60 kilometers on an all-new 2×2 lane, which also bypasses the town of Murray. Construction on this began around 2001 and was completed in phases through 2009 except for the southern bypass of Mayfield, which opened on 20 November 2020.