At 5,500 feet in length, the Southwest Parkway connecting Bowling Green’s South Central Kentucky Industrial Park to Russellville Road is short in stature but long in potential.
The new stretch of asphalt constructed by Scotty’s Contracting and Stone had been talked about since 2015 and finally opened this week. It provides a boost to an industrial park along Nashville Road that is already home to 41 total factories and businesses employing more than 4,700 people.
Designed and built at a cost of $4.5 million in Kentucky Transportation Cabinet funds, the road can ease travel in and out of the industrial park for employees and vendors of such companies as Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, Georgia-Pacific and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake.
But, as the roundabout and spurs along the road attest, it has the potential to do more than ease a factory worker’s daily commute.
“There has been an amazing growth rate in that industrial park,” said Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon, speaking Wednesday in a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony for the parkway held via Zoom teleconference. “With this connector, the positive impact is only going to increase.”
Winding through acreage now used mostly for agriculture, the new road can lead to the growth of an industrial park that now encompasses a little more than 1,000 acres.
An extension of Kobe Way coming out of the existing industrial park, the parkway includes a roundabout roughly halfway between the park and Russellville Road. The section of the parkway from Russellville Road to the roundabout is three lanes, with a center turn lane.
As city of Bowling Green Public Works Director Greg Meredith said earlier this year when work on the parkway was in progress, “the three-lane section will accommodate the development that is sure to come later.”
Likewise, Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ron Bunch sees the road as an artery that will help him attract more employers to an industrial park that is already home to 26 manufacturers and 15 other businesses.
“There’s other developable property in that immediate area,” Bunch said in May when the parkway was being built. “This road will be important for future development.”
The city of Bowling Green was in charge of building the road but was able to get state funding both for design and construction.
Jim Gray, the former Lexington mayor who is now Kentucky transportation secretary, said the total $4.5 million investment in one of the state’s fastest-growing cities was money well-spent.
“This is another step in Bowling Green’s progress,” Gray said during Wednesday’s teleconference. “That’s why the transportation cabinet was willing to invest in this project.”
The road should ease traffic congestion for factory workers, but the exit onto Russellville Road may require some adjustment. It has an RCUT – reduced crossing U-turn – intersection instead of a traffic light where the road connects near the Tennessee Valley Authority property at 6045 Russellville Road.
Kurt Naxera, plant manager at the Henkel cleaning-products plant in the industrial park, said improving access to the park has become a must for the manufacturer that has nearly 900 employees.
“We have 400 trucks moving in and out of the plant every day,” Naxera said in May. “That’s a lot of traffic. Henkel supports this project. It will help our people now, and it will also support future growth. This is the right time to make such an improvement.”