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Interstate 24

 

Routing

Interstate 24 takes a northwest-southeast orientation through Southern Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The freeway even enters Georgia briefly. The highway facilitates traffic through Chattanooga, Nashville, and Paducah, but it also provides a connection to traffic with more distant destinations such as Atlanta, Chicago, and St. Louis. Some signage in Nashville listed the western control city for Interstate 24 as St. Louis, even though Interstate 24 does not go that far west.

Parallel/Historical U.S. Routes

Since Interstate 24 travels in a northwest to southeast direction, it actually parallels a major north-south U.S. route for much of its journey in Kentucky and Tennessee: U.S. 41. The rest of the route into western Kentucky and Illinois follows U.S. 60, U.S. 62, and U.S. 45.

Eastbound Interstate 24 crosses the Tennessee River on this bridge, a steel through arch bridge that was built in 1924. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/19/05).

Future Aspirations

According to the ISTEA/NHS/TEA-21 Legislation, money was appropriated for a feasibility study of a tollway running from East Saint Louis to Carbondale (City and State Rural Access Item 31) and for upgrading Illinois 13 in Williamson County (City and State Rural Access Item 35). These improvements lead me to believe that Illinois plans on extending Interstate 24 from its current northwestern terminus near Carbondale all the way to East Saint Louis. The three best alternatives for the proposed expressway, according to a consulting team headed by the planning agency of Wilbur Smith and Associates, are:

  • From north of Waterloo to Carbondale, via Red Bud, Sparta and Murphysboro.
  • From the Mousette Lane interchange on Interstate 255 at Cahokia to Carbondale, via New Athens, Sparta and Murphysboro.
  • From Interstate 64 east of Illinois 4 near the commercial airport being built at Scott Air Force Base to Carbondale, via Marissa, Cutler and Murphysboro.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and a group of expressway supporters known as the Southwest Illinois Freeway Team, or SWIFT, held public meetings in October 1995 at Sparta and Carbondale to unveil the three suggested routes and to try to drum up more support for the highway. Members of SWIFT say the expressway is needed to reduce travel time and eliminate the frustration of driving on old, two-lane roads between the Metro East area and Carbondale-Marion. Currently, traffic must travel along two to four lane city and town streets, then take two-lane rural roads between the cities and towns. Another reason for the proposed new tollway is the potential to open up southwestern Illinois to more commercial and residential development, which is the mantra for many proposed new highway projects.

The tollway feasibility study indicates that a tollway between East St. Louis and Marion via Carbondale will not pay for itself, but the potential traffic count may still be significant. Some SWIFT members say that most people at the public meetings favored building an expressway. Many citizens were puzzled about why a toll road is being considered rather than a "free" road for this corridor, but that is due to the fact that the state does not have the funding. By 1998, this corridor was no longer actively considered for construction as an Interstate-grade facility.

Highway Guides

History

First conceptualized through western Kentucky in 1958, Interstate 24 was completed in Kentucky on May 23, 1980 when a 23-mile section opened to traffic from Western Kentucky Parkway to U.S. 68 east of Cadiz. Groundbreaking on the first portion of I-24 in the Bluegrass State took place in Lyon County in December 1967.1 The 28-mile section between U.S. 68 and the Tennessee state line opened in early September 12, 1975 at a cost of $29.7-million.2

The Ohio River bridge between Metropolis, Illinois and Paducah, Kentucky opened to traffic in October 1974 at a cost of $18.6 million.3 Structural problems discovered, including 119 cracks as a result of defective welding in the tie girders, led to the closure of the span on August 3, 1979.4,5 The tied-arch bridge remained closed to all traffic through October 1980 and truck traffic until summer of 1981.6

The final portion of Interstate 24 in Illinois to open was the 14-mile highway between U.S. 45 north of Vienna to Interstate 57. This stretch opened in late January 1976 at a cost of $32.5-million.7

Western Terminus - Interstate 57 - Pulleys Mill, Illinois
Perspective from Interstate 24 west
Upon the departure of the first Illinois interchange on Interstate 24 westbound (Exit 37 with U.S. 45 at Metropolis), a mileage sign foretells of the pending junction with Interstate 55. Exit 16 with Illinois 146 at Vienna is 20 miles to the northwest, representing the next point of significance of Interstate 24. There is an interchange at Exit 27 between here and there. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
The final mainline interchange of Interstate 24 is Exit 7. This rural junction is situated within the Shawnee National Forest southeast of Illinois 37 at Goreville. This mileage sign confirms the distance to Interstate 57. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
Drawing to within two miles of the western terminus of Interstate 24. Featured in the background is an overpass of the Norfolk-Southern Railroad line. Beyond that crossing is the overpass of Illinois 37. The state route shadows Interstate 57 from Interstate 24 northward to the city of Effingham near the junction with Interstate 70. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
Interstate 24 ends one mile guide sign. The terminus interchange itself is located along the Johnson and Williamson County line. The closest city of significance is Marion, the Williamson County seat. This community is is nine miles to the north via Interstate 57. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
Exit 44A/B sign bridge on Interstate 24 westbound for Interstate 57. The numbering convention is not of Interstate 24, but instead of Interstate 57. This format is also used for Interstate termini in the city of Little Rock, Arkansas. Interstate 24 is often signed with Saint Louis as the control city. Since the route does not actually travel to the city, an auxiliary panel is displayed to advise motorists to Interstate 57 north (to Interstate 64 west). Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
The Interstate 24 mainline defaults onto Interstate 57 northbound via Exit 44B ahead. Otherwise traffic wishing to turn southwest toward Anna, Mounds, and Sikeston will depart via Exit 44A to the right. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
An end shield is posted at the western terminus of Interstate 24. This rural junction is situated within the Shawnee National Forest, just west of Lake Egypt and the village of Pulleys Mill. Photo taken by Richie Kennedy (07/00).
The conclusion of Interstate 24 westbound. Interstate 57 southbound traffic will travel four miles to the next interchange (Exit 40). The road encountered is the same that Interstate 24 meets at its first interchange. In the background is the one mile guide sign for the next northbound interchange, that of Exit 45 with Illinois 148. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
A reminder for Saint Louis bound traffic interests along Interstate 57 after the merge from Interstate 24. Interstate 57 merges for five miles with Interstate 64 at the city of Mount Vernon. This overlap occurs between Exits 73 and 78. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
Perspective from Interstate 57 south
Interstate 57 southbound at the split with Interstate 24 east (Exit 44). Interstate 24 not only travels to Nashville, but also the city of Paducah, Kentucky. The Ohio River community is situated 46 miles to the southeast. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
Perspective from Interstate 57 north
Just north of Exit 40 west of Goreville is this mileage sign with the distance to Interstate 24/Exit 44. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
Two-mile guide sign of Exit 44 on Interstate 57 north. There are only five Interstate 24 mainline interchanges within the state of Illinois. The first point of interest that the east-west Interstate faces is the Johnson County seat of Vienna, accessible from Exits 14 and 16 via U.S. 45 and illinois 146. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
A sign bridge features the one-mile overhead of Exit 44 on Interstate 57 north. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
A fourth sign of the Interstate 24 western terminus on Interstate 57 north. The terminus interchange comes into view. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
Interstate 57 northbound at the departure of Exit 44/Interstate 24 east. The Tennessee capital city is 176 miles to the south. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
Perspective from Illinois 148 north
Illinois 148 northbound at the southbound ramp to Interstate 57. This guide sign, situated within the Exit 45 diamond interchange, includes Interstate 24 dues to the close proximity. Otherwise Illinois 148 parallels Interstate 57 northward to the city of Herrin. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 75 - Chattanooga, Tennessee
Perspective from Interstate 24 east
Auxiliary guide panels on Interstate 24, 1.50 miles out from the terminus with Interstate 75. Interstate 75 northbound, in conjunction with Tennessee 153, serves Lovell Field (the Airport reference on the left-hand panel). Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
Graphical overhead for Exits 185A/B to Interstate 75, one mile west of the terminus. This diagram is standard for an Interstate to Interstate junction with the state of Tennessee. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
Interstate 75 partitioning of Interstate 24 eastbound. Exit 185A takes traffic to Interstate 75 for an entry into the state of Georgia in two miles. Traffic utilizing Exit 185B to Interstate 75 northbound will reach Interstate 40 in 83 miles. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
ITS marker along the Interstate 24 eastbound Exit 185A ramp to Interstate 75 southbound. There is one final interchange of Interstate 75 before it enters into the state of Georgia, that of Exit 1 with U.S. 41. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
Perspective from Interstate 75 south
Interstate 24/75 directional overhead on Interstate 75 southbound. The northern terminus of Interstate 59 is located to the west of Chattanooga by about 20 miles or so. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca.
Interstate 75 southbound widens to four lanes in anticipation of the Interstate 24 westbound split. At the Exit 2 interchange, two lanes are allocated for each Interstate highway. Photo taken by Dan Garnell (05/01/02).
Nearing the southbound Interstate 75 split with Interstate 24 eastbound. Metropolitan Atlanta is approximately 85 miles to the south. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca.
Night view of the signage for the terminus from Interstate 75 south. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (08/08/99).
The partition on Interstate 75 southbound for Interstate 24 eastbound (Exit 2). Downtown Chattanooga is seven miles to the west. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca.
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 75 south
Interstate 575 86 miles near Marietta, GA
Interstate 285 98 miles at Smyrna, GA
Interstate 85 overlap begin 106 miles at Atlanta, GA
Perspective from Interstate 75 north
The first interchange of Interstate 75 within the Volunteer State serves U.S. 41 at Exit 1. This northbound photograph shows the Exit 1B loop ramp to U.S. 41 north as Interstate 75 prepares to meet the eastern terminus of Interstate 24 in one mile. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/18/05).
The State of Tennessee Welcome Center is situated just past the U.S. 41/Exit 1 interchange. No, they will not be giving out Al Gore bobblehead dolls. Interstate 75 is now within 0.75 miles of Exit 2/Interstate 24 westbound. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/18/05).
Four northbound Interstate 75 lanes partition into two for Interstate 24 and two for the mainline. Interstate 24 westbound features not only the state capital control city, but also the Interstate 59 control city. The east-west freeway will meet the northern terminus of Interstate 59 eighteen miles to the west. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/18/05).
Interstate 24 westbound departs for downtown Chattanooga as Interstate 75 northbound begins its northeasterly course to Cleveland and Knoxville. There are four more Chattanooga metro exits of Interstate 75. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/18/05).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 75 north
Interstate 40
overlap begin
82 miles near Eaton Crossroad, TN
Interstate 140 94 miles near Farragut, TN
Interstate 40 overlap end/
Interstate 640
103 miles at Knoxville, TN
Perspective from Interstate 24 west
Soon after Interstate 24 begins is this Interstate 59 trailblazer. The sign indicates that the northern terminus is 16 miles to the west. Interstate 59 never actually enters the Volunteer State. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/18/05).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 24 west
Interstate 59 16 miles near Trenton, GA
Interstate 440 132 miles at Nashville, TN
Interstate 40 overlap begin 133 miles at Nashville, TN

Sources:

  1. "Long-awaited interstate complete." Williamson Daily News, May 24, 1980.
  2. "Carroll to Open Section of Itnerstate 24 Friday ." Kentucky New Era, September 11, 1975.
  3. "Illinois road improvement projects on a priority basis." The Southeast Missourian, March 1, 1975.
  4. "New crack discovered in I-24 bridge over Ohio at Paducah." Williamson Daily News, May 14, 1980.
  5. "Bridge jam to continue over a year ." Williamson Daily News, August 30, 1979.
  6. "Light traffic scheduled for I-24 bridge by Oct. 1" The Southeast Missourian, August 8, 1980.
  7. "Southern Illinois highways will continue to grow." The Southeast Missourian, February 28, 1976.

Page Updated July 16, 2013.

 
Mileage

State Illinois
Mileage 38.73
Cities Metropolis
Junctions Interstate 57
State Kentucky
Mileage 93.37
Cities Paducah, Hopkinsville
Junctions Future Interstate 69, Future Interstate 66
State Tennessee
Mileage 180.16*
Cities Clarksville, Nashville, Murfreesboro, Manchester, Chattanooga
Junctions Interstate 65, Interstate 65, Interstate 40, Interstate 40, Interstate 440, Interstate 124
State Georgia
Mileage 4.10
Cities None
Junctions Interstate 59
TOTAL 316.36
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* - 5.30 miles on I-40 and I-65
Interstate 24 Annual Average Daily Traffic

State Location AADT Composite Year
Tennessee north Clarksville 29,810 2002
Tennessee Clarksville 39,560 2002
Tennessee Nashville 167,990 2002
Tennessee Chattanooga 117,720 2002
Source: Traffic Flow Maps - Tennessee Roads and Streets 2002 (TDOT)
Complete Interstate 24 AADT data.

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