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Interstate 71

 

The final miles of Interstate 71 in Cleveland are urban, with this double-deck section at the merge point between Ohio 176/Jennings Freeway and Interstate 71, just before the interchange with Interstate 90 and Interstate 490 southwest of downtown Cleveland. Ohio 176 occupies the lower deck, while Interstate 71 travels on the upper deck. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (07/03/06).

Routing

Interstate 71 roughly parallels U.S. 42 between Louisville and Cleveland via Covington, Cincinnati, and Columbus. The freeway cuts a diagonal from southwest to northeast. It has more miles to the east of Interstate 75 than it does to the west of that arterial freeway.

High Priority Corridor

Interstate 71 in Ohio is part of High Priority Corridor 78: Interstate 71 Ohio.

Planned Improvements

Kentucky

In Louisville, Kentucky, major improvements and upgrades are planned for the interchange between Interstates 64, 65, and 71 at the "Spaghetti Junction" (Kennedy Interchange) as part of the larger Ohio River Bridge Project.1 While this project primarily focuses on the construction of a new Interstate 265 bridge ("West End Bridge") and doubling capacity of the Interstate 65 Downtown Bridge by building a parallel span for northbound traffic, the improvements planned for the Interstate 64, 65, and 71 interchange are significant. Improvements cited from the project webpage include:

  • 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 are as follows:4

  • Interstate 265 Connector/East End Bridge Cost: $1.29 billion; Completion: 2013.
  • Interstate 65 Downtown Louisville Bridge Replacement Cost: $868.4 million; Completion: 2019.
  • Interstate 64, 65, and 71: Reconstruct "Spaghetti Junction" Cost: $1.74 billion; completion: 2024.

Design of the new bridges and confirmation of this schedule of construction should be completed by early 2007. Funding is a major concern, and lack of funding could push back the construction phase. The high cost of reconstructing the downtown interchange has piqued the interest in some residents to remove Interstate 64 from downtown Louisville (called "86" 64 or Remove 64), since one of the tenants of this plan would include elimination of the freeway west of Interstate 65 along the waterfront, thus negating the much of the required "Spaghetti Junction."5

Ohio

In Columbus, the Ohio DOT has floated a couple of plans to deal with worsening congestion in downtown. One option is to reroute Interstate 70 south of its current alignment between Exit 98/U.S. 42 and near Milepost 106. In this plan, Interstate 70 would take a new alignment at Exit 98, connecting to Interstate 71 and Ohio 104 south of downtown and southeast of Cooper Stadium. From there, Interstate 70 would take over Ohio 104, and a new connection would be constructed in the vicinity of U.S. 33 (Exit 105) that would link the new Interstate 70 to the existing Interstate 70. In exchange, the existing route of Interstate 70 between Exits 98 and 105A, including the notorious interchange with Interstate 71, would be replaced with a 35 mph boulevard. For a map, visit Plan takes I-70 out of Downtown (Feb. 07, 2004) by the Columbus Dispatch.

Another option, presented in November 2003, the Ohio DOT proposed separating through traffic on Interstates 70/71 from Downtown-bound traffic. According to the Columbus Dispatch article, "the plan would eliminate highway lane changes by dedicating three lanes of traffic to I-70, two lanes to I-71 and creating collector-distributor streets above the highway for motorists getting to and from two sets of Downtown ramps."

As the study progressed between 2002 and 2004, various options were considered, eliminated, or adopted for further consideration. According to the I-70/I-71 South Innerbelt Corridor Study (official site), construction of one of three possible alternatives (involving the location and layout of the collector distributor lanes) would begin in 2008 and end in late 2010. Design of the project began in 2005.4

Another project underway is the reconstruction of Interstate 71, Interstate 77, and Interstate 90 in Cleveland as part of the Innerbelt Project.

Future Aspirations

A pair of Louisville businessmen, Tyler Allen and J.C. Stites, advanced a plan to remove Interstate 64 along the Ohio River waterfront west of Interstate 65 and east of a point near Roy Wilkins Boulevard. The two suggest that Interstate 64 should be rerouted onto Interstate 265 across the East End Bridge once the bridge is constructed. Under their proposal, remaining sections of Interstate 64 would be renumbered as Interstate 364. This means that Interstate 71 would not connect directly onto westbound Interstate 64, and it would end at Interstate 65 with no direct connection to downtown. As of November 2005, this plan is being discussed and debated by members of the community. It is unclear if such a dramatic shift of traffic from the downtown area would work.2 3

Parallel/Historic U.S. Routes

Interstate 71 largely follows U.S. 42 from Louisville to Cleveland.

History

Kentucky's portion of Interstate 71 was built between November 1965 and July 1969.6 Interstate 71 in Ohio was established in 1962; the freeway was completed through the state by 1975. In Columbus, Interstate 71 originally included portions of present-day Interstate 680 and the Ohio 315 freeway. That dual configuration between that routing and the current route was removed in 1976.7

Highway Guides

Southern Terminus - Interstates 64/65 - Louisville, Kentucky
Perspective from Interstate 71 south
The close proximity of the southern terminus to Interstate 65 allows for an independent ramp from Interstate 71 of Interstate 64 for Interstate 65. This photograph is taken within the final mile of the Interstate. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
The downtown Louisville skyline comes into view as Interstate 71 prepares to split for ramps to Interstate 64 and 65. Interstate 64 enters the terminus interchange from the southeast, paralleling the Ohio River as it travels through downtown en route to New Albany, Indiana. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
A pair of end Interstate 71 shields are posted just before the freeway partition into Exits 1A and 1B. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
The other end shield posted across the travel lanes of Interstate 71. Milepost 0.2 is also posted at this location. Downtown Louisville is two miles to the west via Interstate 64 at this point. Photo taken by H.B. Elkins (5/99).
The split of Exits 1A and 1B. Two lanes are allocated for Interstate 65. Exit 1A departs for Interstate 64 westbound to New Albany, Evansville, and Saint Louis. There is no access to Interstate 64 eastbound due to the orientation of the highway with regards to Interstate 71. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
Perspective from Interstate 64 east
Traveling east on an elevated viaduct adjacent to the Ohio River, eastbound Interstate 64 approaches the junction with Interstate 65 and Interstate 71. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/19/05).
The left two lanes exit to Interstate 65, while the right two lanes continue east on Interstate 64 to north Interstate 71. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/19/05).
Interstate 65 splits off from eastbound Interstate 64 here. Use Interstate 65 north to Indianapolis and south to Nashville. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/19/05).
Signage for the split between Interstate 64 east and Interstate 71 immediately follows the ramp to Interstate 65. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/19/05).
Eastbound Interstate 64 reaches Exit 6, Junction Interstate 71 north to Cincinnati. Interstate 64 continues east to Lexington. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/19/05).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 64 west
Interstate 264 4 miles at west Louisville, KY
Interstate 265 7 miles at New Albany, IN
Interstate 164 99 miles at Elberfeld, IN
Perspective from Interstate 65 south
Southbound Interstate 65 in Clarksville, Indiana. The one mile guide sign for Interstate 64 and the southern terminus of Interstate 71 is posted. The interchange with these freeways is located at the south end of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge over the Ohio River. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
Crossing over the Ohio River on Interstate 65 south. The interchange with Interstates 64/71 north is posted as Exit 137. No exit tabs however, are displayed in Indiana of that designation. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
Caution sign for the Interstate 64/71 north off-ramp to Interstate 65 southbound motorists. The interchange is sandwiched between downtown Louisville and the Ohio River. The tight quarters and independent ramps to Interstate 64 and 71 north delineate slower speeds. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
The Kentucky/Indiana state line occurs on the northern banks of the Ohio River. This photo shows the southbound welcome sign and exit-only Exit 137 overhead for Interstates 64/71. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
Midway across the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge is another set of guide signs for the pending Exit 137 junction. Control cities feature Lexington for Interstate 64 east and Cincinnati for Interstate 71 north. Both freeways overlap with Interstate 75 at their respective control points. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
This view of the above Pictured Interstate 64/71 guide sign is missing the Exit-Only portion of the overhead. Saint Louis, Interstate 64 westbound control city, is 256 miles to the west. Photo taken by Jeffrey Napier (07/02).
Departing the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge into Louisville, Kentucky, Interstate 65 southbound motorists are quickly faced with the Exit 137 departure of Interstate 64 and Interstate 71 north. Photo taken by Jeffrey Napier (07/02).
The Interstate 65 mainline departs to the left as this photograph shows a closer view of the Exit 137 sign bridge for the pending Interstate 64/71 ramp partition. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
One lane is allocated for Interstate 64 west and Interstate 64 east/Interstate 71 north. The skyline of Louisville comes into view to the right. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
A second view of the Exit 137 ramp split from Interstate 65 south. A sign bridge is visible to the left and represents where the Interstate 65 mainline is with respect to this location. Photo taken by Jeffrey Napier (07/02).
Continuing on the ramp to Interstate 64 east and Interstate 71 south is this sign bridge. These ramps are independent of the Interstate 64 mainline and are actually located within the median of the east and westbound travel lanes. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
Interstate 71 northbound begins as traffic branches away from Interstate 64 east. The northbound control city of Cincinnati is 97 miles to the northeast. Lexington is situated 110 miles to the east. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
A second perspective of the Interstate 64 east/71 north ramp split. The first interchange of Interstate 71 is with Zorn Avenue, two miles to the northeast. Photo taken by Jeffrey Napier (07/02).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 65 south
Interstate 264 6 miles at south Louisville, KY
Interstate 265 12 miles south of Louisville, KY
Interstate 24
overlap begin
170 miles at Nashville, TN
Perspective from Interstate 65 north
The first indication of the junction with Interstate 71 as seen on northbound Interstate 65 is at the Exit 136C offramp to Muhammad Ali Boulevard. Photo taken by Chris Lokken and Amber Mason (04/07/08).
The left lanes continue north on Interstate 65 to New Albany and Indianapolis. The two right lanes prepare to depart to Interstate 64 and Interstate 71 north. Photo taken by Chris Lokken and Amber Mason (04/07/08).
Northbound Interstate 65 reaches Exit 137, Junction Interstate 64 west to St. Louis, Interstate 64 east to Lexington, and Interstate 71 north to Cincinnati. The bridge that carries Interstate 65 over the Ohio River is visible immediately after the offramp. Photo taken by Chris Lokken and Amber Mason (04/07/08).
At the gore point for Exit 137, this view shows the transition ramp and split to Interstate 64 west and Interstate 64 east and Interstate 71 north. Photo taken by Chris Lokken and Amber Mason (04/07/08).
After the offramp to Interstate 64 and Interstate 71, northbound Interstate 65 crosses the Ohio River into Indiana. Photo taken by Chris Lokken and Amber Mason (04/07/08).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 71 north
Interstate 264 5 miles east of Louisville, KY
Interstate 265 9 miles northeast of Louisville, KY
Interstate 75
overlap begin
77 miles at Walton, KY
Northern Terminus - Interstate 90 - Cleveland, Ohio
Perspective from Interstate 71 north
Traveling north on Interstate 71, the final two exits on northbound are Exit 247A, West 47th Street and Clark Avenue and Exit 247B, Junction Interstate 90 east and Interstate 490 west. Photo taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006).
Shortly thereafter is the first overhead sign for Interstate 490, which is a short, east-west connector from Interstate 71 east to Interstate 77, offering relief to Interstate 90/Inner Belt Freeway. Photo taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006).
The right lane becomes exit only for the connection to Interstate 90 west and Interstate 490 east. Photo taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006).
An overhead sign for lane allocation for the interchange with Interstate 90 and Interstate 490 is posted ahead; the right lanes will exit onto Interstate 90 west and Interstate 490 east. Photo taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006).
Northbound Interstate 71 reaches Exit 247A, West 47th Street and Clark Avenue and Exit 247B, Junction Interstate 90 east and Interstate 490 west. The left two lanes will merge onto Interstate 90 east, while the right lanes enter a collector-distributor ramp system for Exits 247A-B. Photo taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006).
Continuing north on Interstate 71, this view of dual freeway is afforded at the Clark Avenue overpass. Signage for Exit 247B, Junction Interstate 90 east and Interstate 490 west can be seen on the collector-distributor lanes. Photo taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006).
After the merge with Ohio 176/Jennings Freeway and end of the double-deck section, Interstate 71 has less than a half mile of extant freeway before meeting its end at Interstate 90 southwest of downtown Cleveland. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (06/18/06).
Now traveling north on Interstate 71, this overhead sign assembly is the final one along northbound Interstate 71. Shortly after this sign, Interstate 71 north merges onto Interstate 90 east. For Interstate 90 east, use the left lanes; for downtown Cleveland and Junction U.S. 422 and Ohio 14 via Exits 171A-B. Interstate 71 north ends here, just shy of downtown Cleveland. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (06/18/06).
Continuing north, Interstate 71 north prepares to merge onto Interstate 90 east. The semi-truck to the right is on eastbound Interstate 90; the two routes merge shortly ahead. Use Exits 171B or 172A to Jacobs Field and the Q Arena; use Exit 171B to Tower City. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (06/18/06).
A milepost for Interstate 90, Mile 170.8 is posted next to the left lanes of Interstate 71 as traffic from Interstate 90 east merges on the right. Interstate 71 ends and Interstate 90 continues northeast into downtown Cleveland. The next exit is Exit 171A, Junction U.S. 422 and Ohio 14/Broadway east followed by Exit 171B, Junction U.S. 422 and Ohio 14/Ontario Street west. To see these photos, see the perspective from Interstate 90 east for the northern terminus of Interstate 77. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (06/18/06).
Perspective from Interstate 71 south
After splitting from Interstate 90 southwest of downtown Cleveland, the first exit on Interstate 71 south is Exit 246, Junction Ohio 176 south. Ohio 176 is a freeway that connects Interstate 71 with Interstate 480 near Brooklyn Heights. Photo taken by Brian LeBlanc (7/00).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 71 south
Interstate 480 10 miles in south Cleveland, OH
Interstate 80 15 miles at Strongsville, OH
Interstate 271 28 miles at Weymouth, OH
Perspective from Interstate 90 west
Sign bridge on westbound Interstate 90 at the northern terminus of Interstate 77. Interstate 71 advance signage is posted here in anticipation of the southbound beginning of that route. Photo taken by Kevin Vance (01/02).
Interstate 71 and 90 sign bridge on Interstate 90 westbound, as seen from Jacobs Field, home of the Major League Baseball Cleveland Indians. Photo taken by Jim Teresco (08/01).
A look of the above Pictured sign bridge from the Interstate 90 westbound mainline. The bridge on which Interstate 90 travels here crosses the Cuyahoga River. The southbound beginning of Interstate 71 is just 0.75 miles to the south. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/02).
The southerly orientation of Interstate 90 at this point allows the freeway to default onto Interstate 71 south. Because of this, Interstate 90 is forced to exit from itself. Each freeway receives at least two lanes of travel at the upcoming split. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/02).
Interstate 71 southbound begins its journey to the capital city of Columbus. Interstate 90 again turns to the west en route to the suburbs of Lakewood and Rocky River. There is no access from Interstate 90 west to Interstate 490 east at this junction. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/02).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 90 west
Interstate 80
overlap begin
28 miles west of Elyria, IN
Interstate 280 99 miles north of Lemoyne, OH
Interstate 75 106 miles at Perrysburg, OH
Perspective from Interstate 90 east
Currently we do not have photos of this perspective. Please feel free to Contact Us if you have one to share.

Sources:

  1. Kentucky-Indiana Bridges
  2. Plan would erase I-64 from downtown: Bridges proposal faces uphill battle by Chris Poynter, Louisville Courier-Journal, Friday, November 25, 2005.
  3. I-70/I-71 South Innerbelt Corridor Study - official site
  4. Bridge plan cost soars to $3.9 billion: New plan: Build eastern span first, by Marcus Green, Louisville Courier-Journal, December 5, 2006.
  5. 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)
  6. KentuckyRoads.com - Interstate 71
  7. Route 71 - Unofficial Ohio State Highways Web Site (John Simpson).

Page Updated March 10, 2007.

 
Mileage

State Kentucky
Mileage 97.42*
Cities Louisville, Covington
Junctions Interstate 65, Interstate 64, Interstate 264, Interstate 265, Interstate 75, Interstate 275
State Ohio
Mileage 248.15#+
Cities Cincinnati, Columbus, Mansfield, Cleveland
Junctions Interstate 75, Interstate 471, Interstate 275, Interstate 270, Future Interstate 73, Interstate 70, Interstate 670, Interstate 270, Interstate 76, Interstate 271, Interstate 80/Ohio Turnpike, Interstate 480, Interstate 90/Interstate 490
TOTAL 345.58
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* - 19.70 miles on I-75, # - 0.22 miles on I-75, + - 1.74 miles on I-70
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