Interstate 64 connects the St. Louis metropolitan area east to the Hampton Roads area of southeast Virginia. Along the way, I-64 connects with Mount Vernon, Illinois; Evansville, Indiana (via former Interstate 164/new I-69); Louisville, Kentucky; Charleston, West Virginia; and Richmond, Virginia.
Interstate 64 doubles as the southernmost extend of the Avenue of the Saints corridor between Wentzville and Lindbergh Boulevard (U.S. 61) at Ladue. Although much of the Avenue of the Saints corridor north of I-64 and I-70 consists of four-lane divided highway or expressway, it is not an Interstate route. The corridor extends north from the St. Louis area to Hannibal, Iowa City, Iowa and ultimately St. Paul, Minnesota.
In the Norfolk-Hampton Roads area, Interstate 64 forms half of the Tidewater belt system, which results in I-64 curving south then westward, giving the eastbound direction a western orientation. The furthest east point along the route is located near its eastern interchange with Interstate 264 in Virginia Beach. One of four plans never acted upon by the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in May 1996 outlined a renumbering of the Hampton Roads Interstate system, with one proposal realigning I-64 to replace I-664 southward to Suffolk before joining its route eastward through Chesapeake to overtake Virginia 44 into Virginia Beach. Coinciding with this idea was the renumbering of the former I-64 southeast from Hampton to Norfolk as I-864. VA 44 later became an extension of I-264 in August 1997.12
Together the easternmost 35 miles of Interstate 64 and all 20 miles of Interstate 664 constitute the Hampton Roads Beltway. A distinct trailblazer is used for the Beltway, with directional placards indicating inner or outer depending upon the direction traveled. Furthermore the portion of I-64 between I-264 and 664 at Suffolk and I-264 at Virginia Beach does not use cardinal directions due to the orientation of the freeway.
Parallel/Historic U.S. Routes
Interstate 64 and U.S. 40 & 61 are merged from the western terminus at Wentzville through to Ladue, where U.S. 61 turns south along Lindbergh Boulevard. I-64 and U.S. 40 remain cosigned through to St. Louis and the Poplar Street Bridge across the Mississippi River. I-64 and U.S. 40 part ways at the East St. Louis Interchange, with U.S. 40 taking I-55 and I-70. East of St. Louis, Interstate 64 replaced former U.S. 460, which used to follow portions of Illinois 15, 142, and 14 and Indiana 66 and 62 en route to Louisville, Kentucky. The route also overlaps with U.S. 50 from Caseyville to O'Fallon, Missouri.
Once at Louisville, Interstate 64 parallels U.S. 60 more or less east to Virginia. Exceptions to this include the toll section where Interstate 64 is combined with Interstate 77 (West Virginia Turnpike) and between Staunton and Richmond, where it parallels U.S. 250.
In Louisville, Kentucky, major improvements and upgrades are underway for the interchange between Interstates 64, 65 and 71 at the "Spaghetti Junction" (Kennedy Interchange) as part of the larger Ohio River Bridge Project. While this project primarily focuses on the construction of a new Interstate 265 bridge ("East End Bridge") and doubling capacity of the Interstate 65 Downtown Crossing by building a parallel span (Abraham Lincoln Bridge) for northbound traffic, the improvements planned for the Kennedy Interchange are significant. Improvements cited from the project web page include:6
Increased capacity for the ramp system
A new interchange design at Mellwood Avenue and Interstate 64
A new partial interchange at Interstate 71 and Frankfort Avenue/Ohio Street
Realignment of Interstate 64 between Interstate 65 and Interstate 71 to a new alignment south of the existing alignment
Extension of Witherspoon Street one mile to Frankfort Avenue/Ohio Street
In December 2006, costs were estimated for the improvements slated for Interstate 64, Interstate 65, and Interstate 265 in Louisville. Reaching over 60% of initial estimates, the cost for two new Ohio River Bridges and the reconstruction of the Downtown "Spaghetti Junction" interchange between Interstates 64, 65 and 71 was estimated to be $3.9 billion. The components of this major construction initiative were as follows in 2006:8
Interstate 65 Downtown Louisville Bridge Replacement Cost: $868.4 million; Estimated Completion: 2019. The Abraham Lincoln Bridge opened to traffic on December 6, 2015.
Interstate 64, 65, and 71: Reconstruct the Kennedy Interchange Cost: $1.74 billion; Estimated Completion: 2024.
Funding was a major concern, and lack of funding adjusted the construction phase. Work finally started on the Kennedy Interchange project on July 15, 2013. Construction runs through the end of 2016.9
The original western terminus was in Illinois at the East St. Louis interchange with Interstates 55 and 70. Interstate 64 was extended westward in 1993 from East St. Louis through St. Louis to Intestate 270 at Town and Country, Missouri via the Daniel Boone Expressway (U.S. 40). Further extension west into St. Charles County followed through a series of upgrades to the Daniel Boone Expressway (U.S. 40 & 61) to Interstate standards.
The west end of I-64 was located at the approach to the U.S. 40-61 bridge over the Missouri River until 2003. Upgrades continued westward to the Missouri 94 interchange, and then Highway K in 2004.2 The last section, which opened during a ceremony held at the new interchange at Prospect Road on October 14, 2009, extended Interstate 64 northwest to Interstate 70 in Wentzville.
Interstate 64 underwent major improvements in the St. Louis area between 2000 and 2009 as part of the "The New I-64" construction project by MoDOT. I-64 between Ballas Road and Interstate 170 was closed for reconstruction between January 2, 2008 and December 31, 2008. The stretch east from I-170 to Kingshighway Boulevard faced a similar closure on December 15, 2008, as the western section reopened. The entire project was completed on December 7, 2009. The project redesigned the 1950s-built freeway to modern standards, with new overpasses, redesigned interchanges and a high-speed connection with I-170 in addition to landscaping and architectural improvements.
The original corridor planned for Interstate 64 between St. Louis and Louisville followed the recognized major routing of U.S. 50 from St. Louis to Shoals and U.S. 150 from Shoals to Kentucky. The route between Louisville and Lexington was selected due to the introduction of Interstate 71 between Louisville and Cincinnati, and earlier stages of the Interstate system planning called for just a two-lane route from St. Louis to Louisville.
The initial proposed route of Interstate 64 along the U.S. 50 corridor across southern Illinois in 1960.
U.S. 50 was the main route between East St. Louis and Vincennes, and the state of Illinois planned to construct a four-lane divided highway along the corridor in the 1940s. World War II delayed construction and offset potential reconstruction of the route in Indiana, while U.S. 50 and 150 further deteriorated during the war as part of the strategic highway network. The corridor became a part of the Interstate System in 1947, with Indiana calling for a new route from Vincennes to Cincinnati for U.S. 50. The Indiana state Highway Commission submitted strip maps of the U.S. 50-150 corridor from Vincennes to New Albany as the proposed alignment for Interstate 64 because of the necessity to meet the Bureau of Public Roads deadline of January 1, 1957 for all general Interstate route alignments.
Construction to expand U.S. 50 to four lanes from Vincennes to Lawrenceville was incorporated into Interstate 64. Contracts for this work were let in 1956 and 1957. Illinois and Indiana also submitted an agreement to the Bureau of Public Roads to construct the I-64 bridge across the Wabash River, north of Vincennes, on April 7, 1958. This was approved on June 12, 1958, with work commencing soon thereafter.
The date of formal approval for all Interstate system routes set by the Bureau of Public Roads was June 30, 1957. Indiana followed this deadline with comparative studies on a more direct alignment between Vincennes and New Albany, including a straight line running about ten miles south of Washington. The consideration of several alternatives, including more southern routes, attracted the attention of local interests. Local Chambers of Commerce and civic groups formed two major factions, with one favoring the original northern route through Vincennes and another supporting a southern alignment closer to Evansville. The formation of Southern Illinois Incorporated, an association of community development groups, in 1957 led to the announcement of Indiana Governor Handley that both Illinois and Indiana were considering shifting the I-64 corridor southward to serve a greater population base. Despite efforts of the northern proponent group, the St. Louis - Vincennes - Louisville Interstate Highway Committee, which were slower to organize than those to the south, Governor Handley formally announced on February 12, 1958 that I-64 would take the southern course toward Evansville.
The St. Louis - Vincennes - Louisville Interstate Highway Committee continued to lobby for the northern alignment of I-64 after the 1958 announcement, garnering support from Chicago newspapers as well. However Illinois Governor Stratton and the Chairman of the Indiana State Highway Commission sent a formal recommendation to the Regional Office of the Bureau of Public Roads recommending the southern corridor on May 19, 1959. This was based upon documentation on the original and southern corridor comparisons made by the Illinois and Indiana State Highway Departments. Subsequent actions by the Chief Highway Engineer of Illinois and the Chairman of the Indiana State Highway Commission reaffirmed the southern route with separate requests to the Bureau of Public Roads on February 4, 1960. After three days of public hearings involving the two major factions, the Bureau of Public Roads ultimately approved the southern alignment due to the two states agreement in late 1960.
Governor Stratton maintained that Illinois would continue to upgrade U.S. 50 to a four-lane limited access route in September 1960. Indiana started construction on the U.S. 50 Vincennes bypass by 1963 and four-laning of the route west from Aurora. Efforts by the northern alignment group continued unsuccessfully through to the Bureau of Public Roads hearing held on July 26, 1961 and location approval of the Evansville area route.
Connecting Indiana with Kentucky, the double decked Sherman Minton Bridge (a dual suspended arch bridge) carries Interstate 64 over the Ohio River. It was completed and opened to traffic in 1961.7 The span was closed between September 9, 2011 and February 17, 2012 for emergency repair work when cracks were discovered in two supporting bridge members.
In November 2005, Tyler Allen, owner and president of USA Image Technologies in Louisville3, and J.C. Stites, founder and CEO of Autodemo LLC4 created a web page that called for the removal of a portion of Interstate 64 adjacent to Downtown Louisville along the Ohio River. Under their plan, I-64 would be realigned onto Interstate 265 in Indiana and Interstate 265 in Kentucky via the East End Bridge, which will connect the two sections of I-265 in 2016. With this bypass in place, the remaining sections of I-64 east of I-65 and west of an area near Roy Wilkins Avenue would be renumbered as Interstate 364. A surface boulevard along the southern riverfront would allow for access through the restored waterfront area where Interstate 64 used to be. On their web page, Allen and Stites cited benefits including reduced cost of the proposed improvements to the Interstate 64-65-71 interchange (Kennedy Interchange) and increased access to the Ohio River, making downtown Louisville more vibrant and enhancing the regional economy.5 For more, visit Allen and Stites' 8664.org.
With upgrades at the Kennedy Interchange underway through 2016 as part of the Downtown Crossing project, the idea of removing I-64 from the Ohio River waterfront is no longer a possibility.
The two-lane West Virginia Turnpike opened to traffic on November 8, 1954; it was later added to the mileage of Interstate 77 and a portion of Interstate 64 (between Beckley and Charleston). The project to upgrade the turnpike from two to four lanes was completed and opened to traffic on September 2, 1987.7
Competing state interests contested over the planned route of Interstate 64 from Interstate 81 east to Richmond. One faction favored the current route from Staunton east through Charlottesville. The second group, including Governor J. Lindsay Almond, Jr. and several members of the highway commission, advocated a southerly route from Roanoke to Lynchburg and Farmville. The route was debated for three years before the 1961 mandate by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Luther Hodges for the northern route parallel to U.S. 250.14
Spanning the waters of Hampton Roads in southeastern Virginia along Interstate 64 is the four lane Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. This formerly tolled facility connects Norfolk near the Willoughby Spit community with the city of Hampton at Phoebus. The bridge-tunnel system includes a four lane viaduct over the mouth of James River and a four lane tunnel. Opened in 1957, the bridge tunnel carried only two lanes originally. Revenue bonds for the crossing were paid off by 1976 and tolls were removed. Coinciding with the toll removal was the opening of the parallel two-lane span, bringing the crossing up to its current capacity. Since this aspect of Interstate 64 was 90% covered by FHWA Interstate funds, toll collection was not extended. The U.S. 17 James River bridge to the west also saw its tolls removed in 1976 on the same day.1
Western Terminus - Interstate 70 and U.S. 40-61 - Wentzville, Missouri
Perspective from Interstate 64 west
Interstate 64 ends at Exits 1B/A with Interstate 70 east toward St. Louis and I-70 & U.S. 40 west to Columbia and Kansas City. U.S. 61 extends the freeway northward through Wentzville en route to Hannibal. Photo taken 04/13/13.
Interstate 70 and U.S. 40 east split at the directional cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 64 east and U.S. 61. U.S. 40 joins I-64 & U.S. 61 east through Chesterfield and Creve Coeur while I-70 stays to the north through O'Fallon and St. Charles. Photo taken 04/13/13.
Historic Western Terminus - Missouri K - O'Fallon, Missouri
The western terminus of Interstate 64 used to be at Exit 10, Junction Missouri 94. It was extended west by one mile, to Exit 9, Junction Missouri K. WB I-64 crosses the Missouri River along the old span of the Daniel Boone Bridge. The bridge currently handles three narrow lanes of traffic. After winding through the bottoms of Weldon Spring and passing the Missouri Research Park, I-64 adds a fourth lane to accommodate traffic exiting onto Route 94. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (01/31/04).
Westbound Interstate 64 reaches Exit 10, Junction Missouri 94. At the busy Missouri 94 interchange, traffic exiting to St. Charles utilizes the right lane of the bridge, while Westbound traffic heading toward Defiance and ultimately toward Augusta and the Missouri Wineries will utilize the left lane. Toward the east, Missouri 94 goes through Weldon Spring and St. Peters on its way to connecting to the Missouri 364 freeway, which opened in December 2003 with ten lanes across the Missouri River to accommodate intercounty traffic. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (01/31/04).
Westbound Interstate 64 reaches Exit 9, Junction Missouri K. This is the slip ramp from westbound to the collector distributor roadway between Missouri 94 and Missouri K. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (01/31/04).
View of the collector-distributor lanes as seen from the westbound Interstate 64 lanes. The left lane funnels traffic entering westbound Interstate 64 from Missouri 94. Missouri K is the main street through the quick growth areas of southern O'Fallon. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (01/31/04).
Interstate 64 nudges westward to the interchange with Missouri K just west of Missouri 94. Pictured here is the Interstate 64 westbound on-ramp from Missouri K northbound in St. Charles County. The interchange between the two highways opened in early 2004. Photo taken by Jason Oesterreicher (06/18/04).
Past the Missouri K entrance ramp to westbound Interstate 64, a sign panel alerting drivers to the end of Interstate 64 was placed. This sign in the typical MoDOT style announces not only the end of the designation bu also the designation of the road that continues. In this case, the expressway continued northwestward as U.S. 40/61. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (01/31/04).
Junction shield assembly posted on Missouri 94 westbound. The replacement assembly features Interstate 64, while the old junction assembly, posted behind the construction sign in the background, only featured U.S. 40 and 61 shields. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (10/04/02).
This sign on westbound Missouri 94 (which in this area physically goes North/South, this section physically going South) at the Boone Expressway in Weldon Spring. Missouri 94 is exit 10, making it roughly ten miles east of Interstate 70 and is roughly three miles west of the Missouri River. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (06/02).
Perspectives from Missouri 94 east
Eastbound (northbound) on Missouri 94 as it approached the eastbound ramp to the U.S. 40 and 61 freeway. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (10/04/02).
Eastbound (northbound) on Missouri 94 entrance sign for Interstate 64 & U.S. 40 west and U.S. 61 south. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (10/04/02).
Perspectives from Interstate 64 east
I-64-U.S. 40 east & U.S. 61 south just after the Missouri 94 entrance ramp, an older sign assembly with a "TO" banner above the EAST I-64 shield was displayed. However the second set of shields was already in place for the then-newly designated stretch of Interstate. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (06/02).
The previous first eastbound shield assembly for interstate 64, posted after the Missouri 94 interchange. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (06/02).
Historic Western Terminus #2 - Missouri River Bridge - Chesterfield, Missouri
Perspectives from Interstate 64 west
Interstate 64 ended at this sign, about one-half mile east of the Missouri River bridge in Chesterfield. Photo taken by Rich Piehl (11/00).
Close-up of the former End Interstate 64 sign on U.S. 40 west & 61 north. Photo taken by Rich Piehl (12/00).
Perspectives from Interstate 64 east
U.S. 40 east & 61 south (now Interstate 64) at the historic beginning of the Interstate in Chesterfield. There were no signs actually indicating the start, so this was an approximation. Photo taken by Rich Piehl (11/00).
Historic Western Terminus #1 - Interstate 55 & 70 and U.S. 40, East St. Louis, Illinois
Perspectives from Interstate 55 north and Interstates 64-70 east
Spanning the Poplar Street Bridge, Interstates 55-64-70 & U.S. 40 east approach the split with I-64 east and Illinois 3 north. This was one of two instances of three interstate highways that share one stretch of roadway (the other is Interstates 39-90-94 in Wisconsin). Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
At this overhead sign, Interstates 55 north & 70-U.S. 40 east split left, while Interstate 64 east split to the right, along with Southbound Illinois 3. I-70 was removed from the overlap with I-55 and I-64 on February 9, 2014. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
Perspectives from Interstate 64 west
Westbound Interstate 64 at Exit 5, 25th Street. The next exit is the major junction with Interstate 55, Interstate 70, and U.S. 40, one and one-half miles ahead (Exit 3). Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
Westbound Interstate 64 at Exit 4, Baugh Avenue. Exit 3 is the junction with Interstate 55, Interstate 70, and U.S. 40, one mile ahead. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
The left lanes of westbound Interstate 64 lead to the Poplar Street Bridge that carries Interstate 55, Interstate 64, formerly Interstate 70, and U.S. 40 into St. Louis, Missouri. The right lanes link to northbound Interstate 55 and eastbound Interstate 70. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
Westbound Interstate 64 continues straight ahead to join westbound Interstate 70, U.S. 40, and southbound Interstate 55. The right lane exits onto Northbound Interstate 55, Eastbound Interstate 70, and Eastbound U.S. 40. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
Interstate 64 west merges with I-55 south & U.S. 40 west at the Tri-Level Interchange with I-70. This is where Interstate 64 used to end, until it was extended into Missouri along the U.S. 40 freeway. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
Perspectives from Interstate 55 south and Interstate 70 west
First signage for the approaching junction with Interstate 64 along I-55 south & I-70-U.S. 40 west. Photo taken 10/16/04.
Southbound Interstate 55 and westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 40 approach Exit 3, Exchange Avenue, followed by the left exit to eastbound Interstate 64 and northbound Illinois 3 (Exit 2). Photo taken 10/16/04.
Exit 3 to Exchange Avenue departed I-55 & 70 south as a left-hand ramp prepared to exit for I-64 east to O'Fallon. Photo taken 10/16/04.
Interstate 64 west combined with Interstate 55 south & 70-U.S. 40 west to span the Mississippi River along the Poplar Street Bridge into St. Louis. Photo taken 10/16/04.
Perspective from Interstate 64 east
First overhead reassurance marker for Interstate 64 eastbound after the Interstate 55/70 interchange. Note the dual freeway (collector distributor) approach used on this part of the freeway. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
Interstate 64 concludes at a shared endpoint with both Interstates 264 west and 664 south. Parallel U.S. 13 & 460 (Military Highway) tie into the confluence at Bowers Hill just to the west. Photo taken by Tony Payne (04/00).
The freeway mainline turns west onto Interstate 664 north as Exit 299B while Exit 299A joins Interstate 264 east leading through the city of Portsmouth. Photo taken 03/01.
All ramp connections at the three-wye interchange between Interstates 64, 264 and 664 feature shield assemblies for the respective ends. Photo taken 03/01.
Interstate 64 inner ends as Interstate 664 north begins. This is the only occurrence within the Interstate system where a parent 2-digit Interstate route concludes at a branch 3-digit route. Photo taken by Tony Payne (4/00).
Perspective from Interstate 664 south
Traffic merges onto Interstate 664 south from U.S. 58 & 460 east on the three quarter mile approach to the three wye interchange (Exits 15A/B) with Interstates 264 east and 64 outer. Photo taken 07/28/13.
U.S. 13 north & 460 east use I-664 south briefly to make the connection with U.S. 13 (Military Highway) north. Exit 14 parts ways just ahead of the separation of I-664 south to I-264 east for Downtown Portsmouth and Norfolk and I-64 outer southeast to Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Photo taken 07/28/13.
Interstate 664 south defaults onto Interstate 264 east as Exit 15B turns southeast onto the beginning of Interstate 64. U.S. 13 & 460 (Military Highway) parallel I-64 just to the south through to Exit 297. Photo taken 07/28/13.
Historical Perspective from Interstate 664 south
Replaced guide signs posted at the last Interstate 664 southbound exit for U.S. 13 north & 460 east onto adjacent Military Highway (Exit 14). This ramp serves the Bowers Hill community. Photo taken by Jonathan Lebowitz (08/02).
These Highway Gothic based signs were swapped out for new signs by 2011. Interstates 64 and 264 cross one another again in 13 miles at Virginia Beach. Photo taken by Jonathan Lebowitz (08/02).
Perspectives from U.S. 58 & 460 east
U.S. 58 & 460 separate with a two-lane ramp for Interstates 264 east to Portsmouth and Interstate 64 outer to Virginia Beach. A loop ramp follows from the US highway mainline for Interstate 664 leading north to Newport News and Hampton. Photo taken 07/28/13.
Historical Perspective from U.S. 58 & 460 east
This set of signs posted at the U.S. 58 & 460 off-ramp for I-264 east and I-64 outer, was carbon copied with new panels using Clearview font after 2008. Photo taken 12/17/01.
Kozel, Scott. "Re: [seroads] VDOT criticizes I81 plans." Online posting, Yahoo! Groups Southeast Roads and Transport , November 18, 2003.
Dowd, Brian. Personal email, May 25, 2004.
"Plan would erase I-64 from downtown: Bridges proposal faces uphill battle" by Chris Poynter, Louisville Courier-Journal, Friday, November 25, 2005.
Software Marketing Perspectives Conference & Expo: Track One Sessions http://www.smpevent.com/track1.htm - includes brief biography of J.C. Stites
Welcome to "86" Interstate 64 - site that proposes the removal (i.e., "86") of Interstate 64 from the downtown Louisville waterfront just west of Interstate 65 in front of downtown (by Tyler Allen and J.C. Stites)