Stretch of Ky. 80 from Somerset to London renamed for U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers

A 40-mile stretch of Ky. 80 from Somerset to London has been named for Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers.

The designation is an extension of the Hal Rogers Parkway from London to Hazard, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday.

Beshear asked Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock to add Rogers' name to the road London to Somerset in appreciation for Rogers' long public service, the news release said.

"For 35 years, Hal Rogers has served not only the people of his congressional district but the citizens of the entire commonwealth, especially through his particular expertise in transportation," Beshear said.

Beshear, a Democrat, and Rogers have worked closely on an initiative called Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR, to try to improve the economy of Eastern and southern Kentucky.

Rogers has helped steer hundreds of millions of dollars to his district for infrastructure and other projects since he was first elected in 1980.

He advocated upgrading Ky. 80 from Somerset to London to an interstate, but that never came to fruition. Much of that section of the road is two lanes with passing lanes.

The road from Somerset to London has been the Russell S. Dyche Memorial Highway, in honor of a man who served as state parks commissioner and published the newspaper in London, for more than 35 years.

In the 1950s, Dyche led a campaign for a better highway link across the state from the Mississippi River to Pikeville, said his granddaughter Margaret Keith.

Then-Gov. Julian Carroll, a Democrat, named the rebuilt section of Ky. 80 from Somerset to London for Dyche in 1978.

State Transportation Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe said the memorial designation for Dyche would remain on the highway along with Rogers' name.

Rogers, of Somerset, said he was honored by the decision "to extend my namesake parkway, closing the gap between the Hal Rogers Parkway and my hometown."

"One of my proudest moments was removing the toll booths from the roadway in 2003 for the people of southern and Eastern Kentucky," Roger said. "It is a privilege to serve the great people of this region, and my family and I will forever cherish this recognition."

The 60-mile section of road from London to Hazard was renamed for Rogers in 2003 at the request of another Democratic governor, Paul Patton, after Rogers helped get $13 million to end tolls.

The switch removed the name of Daniel Boone, which did not sit well with some people who thought the famed explorer's name should remain.