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.
I-75/24 Interchange Modification
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) awarded a $132.64 million contract on December 21, 2018 for the design-build project upgrading the exchange joining the east end of Interstate 24 with I-75 in Chattanooga. Work through June 2021 started in Fall 2019.
Construction relocates ramps to and from I-24 to I-75 to the right side and expands all other ramps at the systems interchange. Additionally the entrance ramp from U.S. 76 (Ringgold Road) west will be extended along a distributor roadway to the adjacent Tennessee Welcome Center, with a grade separation above the I-75 off-ramp to the rest area. The Spring Creek Road overpass on I-24 will also be replaced.
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. 64/72 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 has a short overlap with I-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 – Future
Tennessee – 180.16*
Cities – Clarksville, Nashville, Murfreesboro, Manchester, Chattanooga
- Junctions –
Georgia – 4.10
Cities – none
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 2.70 miles on I-14, 2.60 miles on I-65
I-24 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
|north Clarksville, TN||39,965|
Source: Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Traffic History – 2018 AADT
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 I-65 at Maplewood (Exit 44) by 1970.
East End – Chattanooga, Tennessee
East End Throwback
Entering the original three-wye interchange (Exit 2) with Interstate 24 west on I-75 south. Photo by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
West End – Pulleys Mill, Illinois
West End Throwback
All guide signs at the west end of I-24 were carbon copied with Clearview font by 2013. Photos by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
I-57 southbound at the split with Interstate 24 east (Exit 44). I-24 angles southeast 46 miles to Paducah, Kentucky. Photo by Chris Patriarca (07/18/03).
- “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 May 5, 2020.