Interstate 74

Interstate 74 westbound (northbound) crossing the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge across the Mississippi River. The westbound span was opened to traffic in 1935 with two-way traffic. The eastbound span was added by 1959.3 The suspension bridge carried U.S. 6 prior to the designation Interstate 74, which was added to the span once the freeway approaches were constructed in 1974.2 Photo taken 09/04/05.


Interstate 74, a diagonal (northwest to southeast) freeway, serves the Upper Midwest, Southern Great Lakes and Ohio River Valley area. Beginning in Iowa at the Interstate 80 interchange in Davenport of the Quad Cities, I-74 leads southward between Davenport and Bettendorf to cross the Mississippi River into Moline, Illinois. Turning east along side Interstate 280 at Quad City International Airport (MLI), I-74 meets Interstate 80 again before starting out on its own toward Galesburg. Once at Galesburg, Interstate 74 turns southeast toward Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana and Danville in Illinois. Beyond the state line with Indiana, the freeway veers toward Indianapolis, before terminating at Cincinnati.

Several extant sections of Interstate 74 also exist in North Carolina, but they do not connect directly with the existing I-74 from the Quad Cities to Cincinnati.

Parallel U.S. Routes

Starting in the Quad Cities area, Interstate 74 follows U.S. 150 southeast to Danville, then follows U.S. 136 the rest of the way into Indianapolis. Southeast of Indianapolis, Interstate 74 at first follows U.S. 421, then U.S. 52 the final distance into Cincinnati.

Planned Improvements

Illinois and Iowa have joined for the I-74 Corridor Study in the Quad Cities area. Improvements underway included work to expand I-74 throughout the Quad Cities, interchange modifications, and a new Mississippi River bridge. Significant funds for the study were included in the SAFETEA-LU bill, signed into law in August 2005.

After years of delays, partially due to funding, construction on the new Mississippi River Bridge for Interstate 74 will kick off by fall 2017, with work running through 2020. Approach work includes the reconstruction of River Drive in Moline (completed in June 2015) and relocation of streets in Bettendorf (work between April 2015 and 2016). Total cost for the project is $1.1-billion.7

Previously (in the late 1990s), local officials had proposed moving Interstate 74 from its current alignment onto Interstate 280 (existing I-74 would have become Interstate 174); this request was denied in favor of researching methods to reconstruct Interstate 74 through the area.

High Priority Corridor

North Carolina's section of Interstate 74 is part of High Priority Corridor 5: I-73/74 North-South Corridor. Its designation in North Carolina is written into law. See Interstate 74 in North Carolina for more.


The original layout of the Quad Cities Interstate system planned for Interstates 74 and 80 to overlap from the current west end of I-74 through the Quad Cities into Illinois. I-80 as it is routed today from Davenport east to Le Claire and south to Colona, Illinois at Interstate 280 was to be designated Interstate 274. Alterations to this plan led to the current configuration before any construction began as the Interstate 74/80 overlap seemed redundant.1

In Iowa, Interstate 74 opened on in stages:.1

  1. August 30, 1968 - from Interstate 80 south to U.S. 6
  2. September 2, 1971 - U.S. 6 south to Kimberly Road
  3. November 26, 1974 - Kimberly Road south to the Mississippi River bridges

Within Illinois, Interstate 74 was completed initially through Peoria along the Illini Expressway and Murray Baker Bridge in December 1958. The cross-state route was finished in 1971 with the opening of I-74 between Bloomington and Mahomet.4,6

Through Peoria and East Peoria, the Upgrade 74 project between October 2002 and November 2006 rebuilt the freeway to modern standards. The $490-million project expanded I-74 to six and eight lanes, improved all Peoria interchanges, and rebuilt the approaches to the Murray Baker Bridge.5

Future Aspirations

Long range plans called for Interstate 74 to continue east and south of Cincinnati through West Virginia and Virginia into North Carolina and South Carolina, with the freeway ending in Myrtle Beach. However, only North Carolina has shown interest or made progress with building I-74. Ohio and West Virginia are unlikely to ever build their proposed portions of the route.

To make the connection between Cincinnati and Huntington, West Virginia, Interstate 74 was proposed to pass through either Ohio or Kentucky. A feasibility study of routing Northern Kentucky Outer Loop Interstate 74 in Kentucky was completed in March 2003, and it revealed that constructing an east-west bypass around Cincinnati to the south via Kentucky might be needed someday, but it was not necessary at the time. Another study at the time considered routing Interstate 74 along the AA Highway rather than Ohio 32.

In West Virginia, Interstate 74 was programmed to follow proposed Interstate 73 along U.S. 52; the two routes would split before entering Virginia, with Interstate 74 merging with Interstate 77 south into North Carolina.

Interstate 74 shields were first erected along a stretch of U.S. 220 freeway south of Asheboro, North Carolina and in 2000 along a stretch between the Virginia State Line and Mt. Airy, North Carolina. See Interstate 74 in North Carolina and High Priority Corridor 5 for more information and photos.

In South Carolina, a failed state resolution previously attempted to designate the Carolina Bays Parkway as part of Interstate 74, the Veterans Highway/Conway Bypass as part of Interstate 73, and the North Myrtle Beach Connector from Main Street to the parkway as part of a new route called Interstate 174.

The route of I-74 now is proposed to hook southwest from Wilmington, North Carolina to reach the Grand Strand via the Carolina Bays Parkway. I-73 may be built as a toll road but funding has been slow to garner. The North Myrtle Beach Connector was completed as an at-grade expressway and opened in September 2009.

For more, visit Bob Malme's Interstate 73/74 Progress in North Carolina Page.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Interstate 80 - Bettendorf, Iowa
Perspective from Interstate 74 west
The one-mile advance sign for the final junction on westbound (northbound) Interstate 74 is posted next to the 53rd Street overpass (which is served by Exit 1). The junction with Interstate 80 could be considered Exits 0B and 0A. Photo taken 09/04/05.
This is the final reassurance shield for Interstate 74 west, after the on-ramp from 53rd Street in Davenport. The junction with Interstate 80 is ahead. Photo taken 09/04/05.
An overhead sign is posted near the 67th Street overpass. Use the right lane to connect to eastbound Interstate 80 to Illinois (Exit 0B); the left lane connects westbound Interstate 80 en route to Des Moines. Use Interstate 80 west to U.S. 61 north to Dubuque and Wisconsin. Photo taken 09/04/05.
The end of Interstate 74 is signed with an Interstate 74 ENDS sign (similar to the signage used at the southern terminus of Interstate 75 in Hialeah, Florida). The Ends signage is fairly standard for Iowa Interstate highways. The two left lanes transition onto westbound Interstate 80, while the right lane departs onto eastbound Interstate 80. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Perspective from Interstate 80 east
Interstate 80 east at Interstate 74 in Davenport, Iowa. Interstate 74 has a total of four miles within the state of Iowa. Photo taken by Chris Curley (7/00).
Another perspective of the above Interstate 74/80 sign bridge. Photo taken by Jim Teresco (07/01).
Perspective from Interstate 80 west
After Exit 301 (Middle Road), this mileage sign provides the first notice of the pending junction with Interstate 74 along westbound Interstate 80. Photo taken 09/04/05.
After the rest area, another mileage sign provides the distance to the next four interchanges: Exit 298, Junction Interstate 74 south to downtown Davenport; Exits 295B-A, Junction U.S. 61/Brady Street; Exit 292, Junction Iowa 130, Northwest Boulevard; and Exit 290, Junction Interstate 280 and U.S. 6. Photo taken 09/04/05.
The first Davenport interchange is Exit 298, Junction Interstate 74 south (signed as east, even though Interstate 74 only travels north-south through Iowa). Photo taken 09/04/05.
At the Utica Ridge Road overpass is the one-mile advance sign for Exit 298, Junction Interstate 74 south to downtown Davenport. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 298, Junction Interstate 74. This is a trumpet interchange, so the connecting ramp wraps in a loop to turn south toward Davenport. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Perspective from Interstate 74 east
First eastbound reassurance shield for Interstate 74, located at milepost 0.4. Photo taken by Jim Teresco (07/01).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 75 - Cincinnati, Ohio
Perspective from Interstate 74 east
1.75 miles out from the terminus, this overhead guide sign displays button copy signage for Interstate 75. The control point for Interstate 75 is Lexington. The central Kentucky city is 82 miles to the south. Photo taken by Chris Curley (07/00).
Interstate 74 ends in one half mile, as the overhead guide sign displays. Photo taken by Chris Curley (07/00).
The eastern terminus of Interstate 74 is located at this junction with Interstate 75 in northwest Cincinnati. U.S. 52, which overlaps with Interstate 74, merges with Interstate 75 south. Photo taken by Chris Curley (07/00).
The interchange with Interstate 75 is numbered Exit 19. However, there is an Exit 20 to U.S. 27/127/Central Parkway. These U.S. routes are connected to Interstate 75 via Exit 3/Hopple Street to the south. This photograph looks at the terminus of Interstate 74 and the three choices motorists are afforded. Photo taken by Chris Curley (07/00).
Perspective from Interstate 75 south
Southbound Interstate 75, one mile north of the eastern terminus of Interstate 74 and merge with U.S. 52 south. Interstate 75 and U.S. 52 overlap for one mile toward downtown Cincinnati. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (12/02).
Now within one half mile of Interstate 74 on Interstate 75 southbound. Interstate 74 merges with Interstate 275 ten miles to the west. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (12/02).
Exit 4 for the westbound beginning of Interstate 74 departs as Interstate 75 maintains three lanes into downtown. Nearby Exit 3 marks the end of the short overlap with U.S. 52 and connection with the overlapped U.S. 27/127 along Hopple Street. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (12/02).
Perspective from Interstate 75 north
This sign bridge on northbound Interstate 75 shows the next exit (Exit 2B, Harrison Avenue) as well as the first advance signage for the junction with Interstate 74 and U.S. 52 (Exit 4). Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/20/05).
At the ramp to Harrison Avenue, Interstate 75/U.S. 52 northbound next approaches Exit 3, Hopple Street, north of downtown Cincinnati. Advance button copy guide signage is in place for the upcoming interchange with the current eastern terminus of Interstate 74 (Exit 4). Note that U.S. 27 north is included on the signage, due to its close proximity to Interstate 74 during its first mile. One of the original shields on the sign was covered up with a green overlay panel. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/20/05).
Northbound Interstate 75/U.S. 52 approaches Exit 3, Hopple Street, followed by Exit 4, Junction Interstate 74, U.S. 27, and the continuation of U.S. 52 west. Interstate 74 travels northwest to Indianapolis and is part of the most direct route to Chicago (with the latter half of the route via Interstate 65). Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/20/05).
Sign bridge on Interstate 75 northbound at Exit 3/Hopple Street. The ramp allocations for the pending Interstate 74/75 split are displayed, as the interchange is situated within the next mile. The control point for Interstate 75 is Dayton, which is located another 47 miles to the north. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/20/05).
Northbound Interstate 75 reaches Exit 4, Junction Interstate 74/U.S. 52 west and U.S. 27. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/20/05).


  1. Interstate 274 routing background obtained from Stephen Summers' Interstate system route numbering page
  2. Iowa Interstate - 50th Anniversary (web site no longer online)
  3. Interstate 74 Corridor Study in the Quad Cities area
  4. "Cause for celebration - Festival will mark historic I-74 construction and reopening of Murray Baker Bridge." The Peoria Journal Star, September 29, 2005.
  5. "Full speed ahead - Upgrade 74 : By the Numbers." The Peoria Journal Star,November 12, 2006.
  6. "INTERSTATES CELEBRATE 40 YEARS // FAST TRACK FOR AMERICA OR LOSS OF AMERICANA?" Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL), June 23, 1996.
  7. "Seeing progress for new I-74 bridge project" KWQC March 25, 2015.

Page Updated June 7, 2015.

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