Interstate 24 takes a northwest-southeast orientation through Southern Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. The freeway even enters Georgia briefly. Facilitating traffic through Chattanooga, Nashville and Paducah, I-24 also provides a part of a route to more distant destinations such as Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis. Some signage in Nashville even listed the western control city for Interstate 24 as St. Louis, even though the freeway does not go that far west.
Parallel U.S. Routes
Leading south from I-57 to Metropolis in Illinois, I-24 somewhat parallels U.S. 45. U.S. 45 leaves the freeway corridor at Paducah, Kentucky, with U.S. 60 paralleling the route east to Reidland and U.S. 62 to I-69 at Eddyville. Angling southeast toward Clarksville, I-24 travels solo until the Hopkinsville vicinity, where U.S. 41 Alternate accompanies the route south into Nashville. U.S. 41 and I-24 parallel one another closely from the capital city of Tennessee south to Chattanooga. U.S. 64 and 72 join U.S. 41 as I-24 dips into Georgia as well.
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
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
Within Nashville, Interstate 24 shares a short overlap with Interstate 65 leading south toward Downtown. Renumbering of Interstate 265 to I-65 in 2000 shortened the overlap between the two routes in an effort to better partition through traffic around Downtown.
Further south at Monteagle, Tennessee, the roadways of Interstate 24 separate by a substantial distance due to the terrain. I-24 was constructed across Monteagle Mountain between 1962 and 1968.8 The freeway incorporated a former three-lane route of U.S. 41 & 64 as the eastbound lanes of I-24. Reconstruction of the eastbound lanes to modern standards during the 1980s left the westbound lanes with two lanes of traffic per direction separated by a concrete barrier.9 The Ridge cut section of Interstate 24 in Chattanooga was dedicated on December 1, 1965.10
West End – Pulleys Mill, IL
East End – Chattanooga, TN
Branch Routes – 1
Total Mileage – 316.36
Illinois – 38.73
Cities – Metropolis
- Junctions –
Kentucky – 93.37
Cities – Paducah, Hopkinsville
- Junctions –
Tennessee – 180.16*
Cities – Clarksville, Nashville, Murfreesboro, Manchester, Chattanooga
- Junctions –
Georgia – 4.10
Cities – none
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2017 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 5.30 miles on I-40 and I-65
I-24 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
|north Clarksville, TN||29,810|
Source: Traffic Flow Maps – Tennessee Roads and Streets 2002 (TDOT)
Very little of Interstate 24 was under construction by 1970 in Kentucky. The National System of Interstate and Defense Highways plan in 1955 only included I-24 between Nashville and Chattanooga. The extension northwest to Illinois was included with the additions approved in October 1957.
Interstate 24 ran northwest from La Vergne (Exit 62) to temporarily end on the overlapped section with Interstate 65 at Maplewood (Exit 44) by 1970.
East End – Chattanooga, Tennessee
|Perspective from Interstate 24 east|
|Supplemental guide panels on Interstate 24, 1.50 miles out from the terminus with Interstate 75. I-75 north to SR 153 leads motorists to Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport / Lovell Field (CHA). Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).|
|A design-build project will upgrade 4.4 miles of roadway, including I-24 east from South Moore Road to I-75, and I-75 north from I-24 to East Brainerd Road. Redesign of the three-wye interchange at I-24/75 includes relocating left side ramps to the right and improving ramp geometry. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).|
|Interstate 24 ends as traffic separates for I-75 south to Atlanta, Georgia and I-75 northeast 83 miles to I-40 at Farragut. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).|
|Perspective from Interstate 75 south|
|Interstate 75 southbound widens to four lanes, with two splitting for I-24 west and the continuation south into Georgia. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).|
|Nearing the southbound Interstate 75 split with Interstate 24 eastbound. Metropolitan Atlanta is approximately 85 miles to the south. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).|
|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 (02/01/03).|
|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 Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).|
|The State of Tennessee Welcome Center is situated just past the U.S. 41/Exit 1 interchange. Interstate 75 is now within 0.75 miles of Exit 2/Interstate 24 westbound. Photo taken Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).|
|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 Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).|
|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 along Interstate 75. Photo taken Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).|
West End – Pulleys Mill, Illinois
- "Long-awaited interstate complete." Williamson Daily News, May 24, 1980.
- "Carroll to Open Section of Interstate 24 Friday ." Kentucky New Era, September 11, 1975.
- "Illinois road improvement projects on a priority basis." The Southeast Missourian, March 1, 1975.
- "New crack discovered in I-24 bridge over Ohio at Paducah." Williamson Daily News, May 14, 1980.
- "Bridge jam to continue over a year ." Williamson Daily News, August 30, 1979.
- "Light traffic scheduled for I-24 bridge by Oct. 1" The Southeast Missourian, August 8, 1980.
- "Southern Illinois highways will continue to grow." The Southeast Missourian, February 28, 1976.
- Tennessee’s Interstate System – Facts About Tennessee’s Interstate System 50th Anniversary, 1956-2006.
http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/interstateinfo/Tnfacts.htmTennessee Department of Transportation.
- “Re: Routing of I-24 around Monteagle, TN” online posting by RoadWarrior56, AARoads Forum, September 25, 2010.
- "50 years later … Interstate network transformed U.S. transportation system." Chattanooga Times Free Press, June 29, 2006.
Page updated November 14, 2015.