Interstate 275 – Tennessee

History
North End
South End

Overview

Knoxville, TN Map
Two state route freeways join Interstates 40, 75 and 640 in the city of Knoxville. The first is SR 158 (James White Parkway), a freeway spurring into Downtown along the Tennessee River waterfront. The second (SR 71) extends James White Parkway east across the Tennessee River to Sevierville Pike in South Knoxville.

Interstate 275 in Tennessee is a short freeway linking Downtown Knoxville with the Interstate 640 bypass and mainline I-75.

Route Information

  • North End – Knoxville, TN

  • South End – Knoxville, TN

  • Mileage – 2.98

  • Cities – Knoxville

  • JunctionsI-40 I-75

Source: December 31, 2017 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

I-275 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

Location Vehicles per day
I-40 to Exit 1A 75,829
Exits 1A to 1B 74,393
Exits 1B to 2 71,227
Exits 2 to 3 71,126

Source: 2018 Traffic Map – Knox County, Tennessee Department of Transportation

History

The three mile stretch of Interstate 275 was constructed in 1958 as part of the I-75 mainline through Knoxville. In preparation for the 1982 World's Fair, I-75 was rerouted onto the then newly completed Interstate 640 to bypass the Downtown area. The original stretch between I-40 and I-640 was subsequently designated as Interstate 275. This was previously approved by AASHTO on June 22, 1980.

A $20-million reconstruction project along Interstate 275 took place between December 1, 2006 and January 26, 2008. Work expanded portions of the freeway to six lanes and reconfigured three interchanges from cloverleaves to diamonds. The interchange modifications increased the ingress and egress movements from 300 feet to 1,200 feet.1 This upgrade was completed ahead of the "Smartfix" widening of Interstate 40 east from Downtown Knoxville.

Totalling $22.22 million, work at the Broadway/I-640 interchange through Spring 2019 completes improvements at the exchange started in 2016. This work is the second phase of a long term project dating to 1999. Finished then were new ramps along the eastbound direction of I-640 at U.S. 441 (Broadway). The final phase adds a loop ramp from U.S. 441 (Broadway) north to I-640 west and a collector roadway eliminating weaving traffic along U.S. 441 southbound from Tazewell Pike.2

Highway Guides

North End I-75 US 25W – Inskip, Knoxville, Tennessee

Perspective from Interstate 275 north
Interstate 275 advances north with three lanes a half mile from the diamond interchange (Exit 2) with Heiskell Avenue to I-75/640 (Exit 3). Photo taken 11/03/11.
Two lanes continue from I-275 to Interstate 75 north through the systems interchange (Exit 3) with the Knoxville bypass. I-75 overlaps with I-640 west 3.5 miles to Interstate 40. Photo taken 11/03/11.
Exit 3 leaves I-275 north for a connector to both I-75/640 south and U.S. 25W (Clinton Highway) north. Photo taken 11/03/11.
Exit 3 partitions with a direct ramp for I-640 east & U.S. 25W north. U.S. 25W runs along side Interstate 640 to I-40 in east Knoxville. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
A single lane flyover carries the northbound I-75 mainline above the connector linking I-275 north with I-75/640 south and U.S. 25 (Clinton Highway) north. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Historic Perspective from Interstate 275 north
Curving west from Oldham Avenue, I-275 approached the former cloverleaf interchange (Exits 2A/B) with Heiskell Avenue to Central Street. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
2006-08 reconstruction of I-275 added a third northbound lane through the exchange with Heiskell Avenue. Guide signs along this stretch predated the 1982 relocation of Interstate 75 onto I-640. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Sign replacements made by 2008 added Interstate 75 south for Exit 3. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Interstate 75 extends 165 miles north from I-275 and I-640 to Lexington, Kentucky. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Historic Perspective from Interstate 640 west & U.S. 25W south
Replaced diagrammatic sign posted one mile out from Exits 3A-3B with Interstate 75 north, I-275 south and U.W. 25W (Clinton Highway) north. Nashville lies 169 miles to the west via I-640 and Interstate 40. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Two lanes part ways with Interstate 640 west & U.S. 25W north for I-75 north and I-275 south. La Follette lies 54 miles to the north; Chattanooga is 102 miles to the southwest. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Single lane ramps connect with I-75 north to Lexington, Kentucky and I-275 south to Downtown Knoxville. Photo taken by Jeffrey Napier (01/02).
Perspective from Interstates 75 north & 640 east
One mile ahead of Interstate 275, where I-75 north partitions from I-640 east for Kentucky. The succeeding ramp (Exit 3B) connects with Gap Road north to U.S. 27W (Clinton Highway). Photo taken by Jeffrey Napier (01/02).
Exit 3 separates into single lane ramps for Interstate 275 south to Downtown Knoxville and I-75 north toward Lexington, Kentucky. Photo taken 08/23/03.
Historic Perspective from Interstates 75 north & 640 east
A diagrammatic overhead replaced the individual sign panels for the I-640 east and I-75 northbound split at Gap Road (Exit 3B). Photo taken 08/23/03.
Passing under Gap Road, I-75 north & 640 east advanced a quarter mile to split at Exit 3. These bridge mounted signs were eventually taken down. Photo taken 08/23/03.
Interstate 75 makes a turn off to stay on (TOTSO) movement to continue north from I-640 and I-275. The mainline reduces to a single lane ramp both north and southbound through the exchange. Photo taken by Jeffrey Napier (01/02).
Perspective from Interstate 75 south
Interstate 75 comprises a six lane freeway through the northern suburbs of Knoxville between SR 131 (Exit 112) and the multi level exchange with I-275 south and I-640. Photo taken by Jim Teresco (08/12/02).
Passing under Inskip Drive, 0.4 miles ahead of the separation with Interstate 275 south to Downtown Knoxville on I-75. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
The southbound mainline for Interstate 75 makes a TOTSO (turn off to stay on) connection with I-640 west as it continues toward I-40 and Chattanooga. This traffic pattern resulted from the 1982 realignment of I-75. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
The initial stretch of I-275 south links I-75 with Interstate 640 east & U.S. 25W north along Sharp Ridge. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Perspective from U.S. 25W south
U.S. 25W (Clinton Highway) ties into the interchange complex joinining I-75/275/640 from a commercial arterial to the west. Although omitted on overheads here, U.S. 25W combines with I-640 east along the succeeding loop ramp. The connector leads directly to I-275 south at a wye. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

South End I-40 US 441 – Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee

Historic Perspective from Interstate 275 south
Interstate 275 navigates through an S-curve along side Second Creek on the 1.25 mile approach to I-40 and Downtown Knoxville. Prior to 2007, a series of three compact cloverleaf interchanges, including Exits 1C/D for Oldham Avenue, joined the freeway with Knoxville surface streets. These were reconfigured by 2008 to eliminate weaving traffic patterns. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
The Interstate 275 southbound mainline defaults onto I-40 west as flyovers depart from the outside lanes for I-40 east and U.S. 441 (Henley Street) south. This configuration remains from when Interstate 75 south combined with I-40 here. Photo taken by Jim Teresco (08/12/02).
Traffic partitions from I-275 south for Interstate 40 east and the Downtown connector to U.S. 441 (Henley Street). U.S. 441 leads south from Knoxville to Sevierville and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Perspective from Interstate 40 west
Turning south from the Edgewood neighborhood toward Interstate 275, I-40 navigates through succeeding interchanges with Hall of Fame Drive and SR 158 (James White Parkway) west to Downtown Knoxville. Photo taken 06/25/12.
Four lanes westbound elevate across the Knoxville street grid north of Downtown ahead of Interstate 275 north (Exit 387A). This viaduct was constructed during the Smartfix40 megaproject completed in 2009. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (06/10/17).
A systems interchange (Exit 387A) connects Interstate 40 with both I-275 north and U.S. 441 (Henley Street) south. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (06/10/17).
Historic Perspective from Interstate 40 west
Approaching the south end of I-275 before the SmartFix40 reconstruction of Interstate 40 got underway through Knoxville. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
The I-40 viaduct leading west into the exchange with I-275 over U.S. 441 (Broadway) and adjacent railroads was completely rebuilt during the SmartFix40 project. An on-ramp from Magnolia Avenue (U.S. 11-70) once merged onto I-40 westbound here.3 Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Perspective from Interstate 40 east
Interstate 40 navigates through a directional T interchange (Exit 386B) with U.S. 129 (Alcoa Highway) south one mile west of I-275. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Exit 387 departs from I-40 east to Dale Avenue and SR 62 (Western Avenue) for Downtown Knoxville. The succeeding ramps connect with I-275 north and U.S. 441 (Henley Street) south. SR 62 ends at U.S. 441 near City Hall. Photo taken 11/03/11.
The entrance ramp from U.S. 129 (Alcoa Highway) north expands Interstate 40 eastbound to five lanes. Back to back lane drops occur at I-275 north (Exit 387A) and the connector to U.S. 441 (Henley Street) south (Exit 388). Photo taken 11/03/11.
Two lanes separate from I-40 east at Exit 387A for Interstate 275 north to I-75 and Lexington, Kentucky. Photo taken 11/03/11.
Historic Perspective from Interstate 40 east
Prior to the SmartFix40 reconstruction of Interstate 40, the eastbound mainline reduced to just two through lanes at the exchange with I-275. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
U.S. 441 shifts southward from Broadway onto Henley Street along the west side of Downtown. The route spans the Tennessee River across the Henley Street Bridge to South Knoxville. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Perspective from U.S. 441 north
U.S. 441 (Henley Street) runs along the Knoxville Convention Center north from U.S. 11 (Cumberland Avenue). The ramps for I-40 and I-275 depart in three blocks. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Two lanes separate from U.S. 441 (Henley Street) north for Interstate 275 north and I-40. Photo taken 08/23/03.
A northbound viaduct spans Worlds Fair Park Drive and a railroad yard. Departing here is the on-ramp for I-40 east to the Great Smoky Mountains and Asheville, North Carolina. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
I-275 commences with two northbound lanes through the multi level interchange with Interstate 40 and U.S. 441 (Henley Street). A loop ramp connects with I-40 west toward Nashville and Chattanooga. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
A lane drop occurs at the unnumbered ramp for Interstate 40 west. I-275 north to Interstate 75 leads motorists 170 miles north to Lexington, Kentucky. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).
Historic Perspective from U.S. 441 north
These overheads at the connector from U.S. 441 (Henley Street) to I-275 from Downtown were replaced by summer 2003. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

Sources:

  1. “Highway headaches Motorists will get plenty before latest interstate changes finished.” Knoxville News-Sentinel, February 11, 2008.
  2. “TDOT says spring 2019 for Broadway/I-640 interchange completion.” Knox TN Today, July 16, 2018.
  3. Dan Moraseski, email: “ghost ramp near I-275 south end.” September 3, 2003.

Page updated January 11, 2019.