Interstate 65

History
North End
South End

Overview

Interstate 65 connects the Deep South with the Midwest, providing a north-south connection from the ports of the Gulf of Mexico to the ports of the Great Lakes. Alabama’s main street, I-65 begins in the “Port City” of Mobile and runs northeast through wide swaths of pine forest to the capital of Montgomery. Beyond there, I-65 continues northward to the economic hub of the state in Birmingham before reaching the Huntsville area between Madison and Decatur. North of Huntsville and Interstate 565, I-65 passes through 120 miles of the Volunteer State with a direct line through Nashville.

Within the Tennessee capital city, I-65 changed alignments in 2000 to overtake the former Interstate 265 along the west side of the central business district. Beyond there, I-65 combines with Interstate 24 along a short overlap in north Nashville before angling northeast toward the Bluegrass State.

Traveling through Kentucky, Interstate 65 ventures across hilly terrain to Bowling Green and Elizabethtown. The freeway passes to the east of Fort Knox en route to Shepherdsville and the south suburbs of Louisville. I-65 bisects Kentucky’s largest city before crossing the Ohio River into the Falls City area of southern Indiana.

Leaving the Ohio Valley, Interstate 65 flattens out across agricultural areas by the smaller cities of Seymour, Columbus and Franklin while en route to Indianapolis. I-65, like I-70, travels through the heart of Indianapolis as Interstate 465 encircles the Circle City along a 57.5-mile beltway. Traveling northwest, I-65 again transitions into a rural freeway to Lebanon, Lafayette and Crown Point. The northernmost reaches of the freeway serve the industrial city of Gary in the eastern Chicago metropolitan area.

Ohio River Bridges

Within Louisville, Kentucky, the Ohio River Bridge Project focused on I-65 in addition to the East End Bridge for Interstate 265. The project included the addition of the Downtown Crossing, a second bridge for I-65 across the Ohio. Accommodating northbound traffic, the new cable-stayed bridge doubled capacity, with the original John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge redesigned for southbound only use. Additional work focused on improvements to the Kennedy Interchange, where I-64, I-65 and I-71 come together outside Downtown. Improvements cited from the project web page include:4

  • 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 I-65 and I-71 to a new route south of the existing one
  • Extension of Witherspoon Street one mile to Frankfort Avenue/Ohio Street

In December 2006, costs were estimated for the improvements slated for I-64, I-65, and I-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 I-64, I-65, and I-71, was estimated to be $3.9 billion. The components of this major construction initiative were as follows:5

  • Interstate 265 Connector/East End Bridge – Cost: $1.29 billion with a forecast completion of 2013.
  • Interstate 65 Downtown Louisville Bridge Replacement – Cost: $868.4 million with a forecast completion of 2019.
  • I-64, I-65, and I-71: Reconstruct “Spaghetti Junction” – Cost: $1.74 billion with a forecast completion of 2024.

Design of the new bridges and confirmation of this schedule of construction was to be completed by early 2007. Funding was a major concern, and lack of funding pushed back the construction phase. However efficiencies in design and construction and inflation savings efforts accelerated the time table, and ground breaking for the Downtown Crossing took place on June 18, 2013 at Waterfront Park in Louisville.6

As announced on November 30, 2015, the new six-lane northbound span was officially named the Abraham Lincoln Bridge8. A public bridge walk was held on the cable stayed bridge five days later where an estimated 50,000 attended. Opening of the bridge to traffic followed late on December 6, 2015. It carried four northbound lanes temporarily as crews shifted southbound motorists onto the span later that month. The new 2,100-foot bridge carried dual traffic to fall 2016 as construction rehabilitated the adjacent cantilever span (JFK Bridge) for the southbound only conversion.9

Five of the six southbound lanes across the Ohio River opened to traffic along he rehabilitated John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge bridge on October 10, 2016.10 All lanes and ramps on both spans and approaches were open by mid-November 2016, with the ramp from I-65 south to I-64 opened on November 14.11 All electronic tolling (AET) was implemented on the crossing on December 30, 2016.

The north tower of the Abraham Lincoln Bridge during the public bridge walk held on December 5, 2015. Photo taken by Tom Reaugh.

Parallel U.S. Routes

Interstate 65 parallels U.S. 31 for much of its route, with the exception of the stretch northwest of Indianapolis, where it parallels U.S. 52 (Indianapolis to Lafayette) and U.S. 231 (old U.S. 152 from Lafayette to Crown Point) and Mobile County, Alabama where it aligns west of U.S. 43 from Satsuma to Mobile.

History

Warrior. Rounding out work was the 14-mile portion between Lewisburg and Warrior.

Widening of Interstate 65 from four to six lanes between Exits 10 to 13 in Alabama was completed in 2003. A $110-million project completed between 2006 and December 21, 2010 modernized and widened I-65 between Exits 168 and 173 through Montgomery. South of Birmingham in suburban Shelby County, Interstate 65 again widens to six lanes with an expansion project between Exits 242 and 250 completed in December 2011. Work further north expanded the freeway to eight lanes within the vicinity of Interstate 22, with construction of a multi-level systems interchange there underway to October 2015.

South view of I-65 at I-22 - Birmingham, AL

Construction started in August 2010 expanded Interstate 65 between North Birmingham and Fultondale, Alabama. The project added c/d roadways to both directions of the freeway to connect with I-22 at the directional T interchange pictured here. I-22 was completed on June 20, 2016. 10/08/16.

The first section of Interstate 65 to open in Tennessee was located at the Tennessee-Alabama line, and it opened to traffic on November 15, 1958. The 1.8-mile stretch cost $1.3 million to construct over an 18-month period (starting in May 1957).

Within the Volunteer State, Interstate 65 underwent reconstruction and expansion north of the central business district of Nashville between early 2001 and late 2004. Constructed in 1968, I-65 was expanded to six lanes from Exits 87 to 90 (Briley Parkway) and eight lanes from Briley Parkway (SR 155) to Vietnam Veterans Boulevard (Exit 95). Work included the installation of sound barriers and the introduction of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies.3

Interstate 65 between Elizabethtown and Louisville opened on August 1, 1956 as the tolled Kentucky Turnpike. Tolls were levied along the 39-mile road until June 30, 1975, when bonds that financed its construction were paid off.

Within the Hoosier State, Interstate 65 was fully completed when the stretch in downtown Indianapolis opened to traffic in 1976.6

Route Information

  • North End – Gary, IN

  • South End – Mobile, AL

  • Branch Routes – 6

  • Total Mileage – 887.30

Mileage

Alabama – 367.00

  • Cities – Mobile, Greenville, Montgomery, Clanton, Birmingham, Cullman, Decatur, Athens

  • JunctionsI-10 I-165 I-85 I-459 I-20 I-59 I-22 I-565

Tennessee – 121.71*

  • Cities – Franklin, Nashville

  • JunctionsI-840 I-440 I-40 I-24

Kentucky – 137.32

  • Cities – Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Louisville

  • JunctionsI-165 I-265 I-264 I-64 I-71

Indiana – 261.27

  • Cities – New Albany, Seymour, Columbus, Franklin, Indianapolis, Lebanon, Lafayette, Gary

  • JunctionsI-265 I-465 I-69 I-70 I-865 I-80 I-94 I-90 Indiana Toll Road

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 2.60 miles on I-24, 1.00 mile on I-40

I-65 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

Location Vehicles per day
Ardmore, TN 21,450
Nashville, TN 183,350
Clarksville, IN 86,357
Indianapolis, IN 155,060
Lafayette, IN 55,291
Hobart, IN 111,757
Gary, IN 15,014
I-65 north at US 31 - Fultondale, AL

Interstate 65 at the 47th Avenue North overpass at Lewisburg in Birmingham, Alabama. 10/08/16

I-24 east / I-65 south split - Nashville, TN
The Nashville skyline comes into view along the overlap of I-24 east / I-65 south at Exit 87. 11/07/11

Prior to 2000, I-24/65 continued together to Interstate 40, where I-24 turned east and I-65 turned west. The relocation of I-65 over I-265 to the west was undertaken in an effort to partition some of the through traffic around Downtown Nashville.

Birmingham, AL area - 1974
Birmingham area – 1974 Alabama Official Highway Map

The 11.7 mile stretch of Interstate 65 between Hoover south to Alabaster, Alabama was completed on May 20, 1981. That opening was followed by the 14-mile portion from Lewisburg to Warrior, Alabama on December 19, 1985.

Nashville, TN - 1969
Interstate 65 temporarily ending at Harding Place (Exit 78) in Oak Hill, to the south of central Nashville, in 1969.

Interstate 65 was complete from Oak Hill south to Alabama and from north of the split with I-40 to U.S. 31W (Exit 98) near Millersville by 1970.

I-65 - Abraham Lincoln Bridge
The Abraham Lincoln Bridge and John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridges carry Interstate 65 across the Ohio River, linking Downtown Louisville, Kentucky with Jeffersonville, Indiana. Photo taken during the public bridge walk held on December 5, 2015 by Tom Reaugh.

The Kennedy Bridge opened to traffic for Interstate 65 on December 6, 1963. The bridge accommodated four northbound lanes and three southbound lanes until 2016, when it shut down for reconstruction and conversion to southbound only traffic.

Northwest Indiana - 1970
Interstate 65 corridor north of Indianapolis – 1970-71 Indiana Official Highway Map

North of incomplete portions of Interstate 65 through the Circle City, I-65 was also nearing completion in 1974 from Lebanon north to U.S. 24 near Remington. U.S. 52 remains along its four-lane alignment parallel to this stretch today.

North End I-90 US 12 US 20 – Gary, Indiana

I-65 North at I-90 Indiana Toll Road US 12 US 20

I-65 north at I-80/94 - Gary, IN

Interstate 65 parts ways with Exit 259B for I-80-94/U.S. 6 east to their split at Lake Station. I-80 joins I-90 to South Bend and Toledo, Ohio while I-94 curves northward to St. Joseph, Michigan. I-65 concludes in two miles at Interstate 90 (Indiana Toll Road). 11/05/09

I-65 north at I-90/Indiana Toll Road - Gary

Traveling a viaduct above a Norfolk Southern Railroad line and parallel Central Avenue, motorists on I-65 are advised of the final two exits: Exit 261 to 15th Avenue in Gary and Exit 262 for I-90 (Indiana Toll Road). 11/05/09

I-65 north at I-90/Indiana Toll Road - Gary

The first of two end signs posted for Interstate 65. The freeway concludes one half mile north of a parclo interchange (Exit 261) with 15th Avenue. 11/05/09

I-65 north at I-90/Indiana Toll Road - Gary

Exit 261 leaves Interstate 65 north for 15th Avenue. Forthcoming Exit 262 provides direct access to I-90 west to Hammond and Chicago, Illinois and east to South Bend and Toledo, Ohio. 11/05/09

I-65 north at I-90/Indiana Toll Road - Gary

Exit 262 constitutes a wye interchange linking Interstate 65 with the toll plaza and access road from adjacent Dunes Highway to the Indiana Toll Road. Constructed between 2003 and 2004, this interchange replaced an at-grade intersection. 11/05/09

I-65 north at US 12/20 - Gary, IN

Beyond the ramp to I-90, Interstate 65 concludes at a traffic light with U.S. 12/20 (Dunes Highway) and Taylor Road. Downtown Gary lies to the west and Aetna in east Gary to the east. Taylor Road ties in from an industrial site to the north. 11/05/09

US 12 US 20 East at I-65

US 12/20 east at I-65 - Gary, IN

Leaving Downtown Gary, U.S. 12/20 combine from along Dunes Highway eastward the one-way couplet along 4th/5th Avenues. Industrial frontage lines the highway east to the signalized intersection with Taylor Road north and I-65 south. 09/03/05

US 12 US 20 West at I-65

US 12/20 west at I-65 - Gary, IN

U.S. 12/20 (Dunes Highway) westbound pass under Interstate 90 at the left turn for the southbound beginning of I-65. Photo by Don Hargraves (09/23/02).

US 12/20 west at I-65 - Gary, IN

An overhead directs motorists along Dunes Highway westbound to Interstate 65 south. I-65 meets 15th Avenue nearby. 11/05/09

I-90 Indiana Toll Road East at I-65

I-90/Indiana Toll Rd east at I-65/US 12-20 - Gary

One mile west of the trumpet interchange (Exit 17) and access road for Interstate 65 south and U.S. 12 /20 (Dunes Highways). 11/04/11

I-90/Indiana Toll Rd east at I-65/US 12-20 - Gary

Turning southward on the half mile approach to I-65 south along I-90 (Indiana Toll Road) east. U.S. 12/20 combine along Dunes Highway from Downtown Gary east to Aetna, meeting I-65 to the immediate north of Exit 17. East of Exit 17, U.S. 12 parts ways with U.S. 20, taking a northerly route through East Chicago, Gary, Portage, Burns Harbor as U.S. 20 parallels a short distance to the south. 11/04/11

I-90/Indiana Toll Rd east at I-65/US 12-20 - Gary

Exit 17 departs I-90 east to a toll plaza and the ramp split for Interstate 65 south to Indianapolis and U.S. 12/20 in Gary. 11/04/11

I-90/Indiana Toll Rd at I-65/US 12-20 - Gary

Traffic taking Exit 17 from the Indiana Toll Road separates with a wye interchange connecting to I-65 south at 15th Avenue and a second trumpet interchange with U.S. 12/20 (Dunes Highway). Photo by Don Hargraves (09/23/02).

I-90/Indiana Toll Rd at I-65/US 12-20 - Gary

Following the ramp from the Indiana Toll Road to Interstate 65, motorists split for the freeway mainline south to Lafayette and 15th Avenue into Gary. Photo by Dave Sudhoff (05/21/05).

I-90 Indiana Toll Road West at I-65

I-90/Indiana Toll Rd west at I-65/US 12-20 - Gary

One mile east of the Exit 17 interchange complex with Interstate 65 south and U.S. 12/20 (Dunes Highway) along I-90 near the 15th Avenue overpass in Gary. The capital city of Indianapolis is 139 miles to the southeast. 09/02/05

I-90/Indiana Toll Rd west at I-65/US 12-20 - Gary

Interstate 90 (Indiana Toll Road) curves northwesterly on the half mile approach to Exit 17. Exit 17 serves both I-65 south to Lafayette and U.S. 12/20 through Gary. 09/02/05

I-90/Indiana Toll Rd west at I-65/US 12-20 - Gary

15th Avenue passes over Interstate 65 at the trumpet interchange for Exit 17. Originally the movement to I-65 south utilized a left turn onto the beginning freeway. I-65 continues two miles to I-80/94-U.S. 6. 05/09/10

I-65 South

I-65 south at US 12/20 - Gary, IN

The first shield for Interstate 65 stands to the immediate south of U.S. 12/20 (Dunes Highway). An adjacent right turn lane connects with a business as the freeway begins. 11/05/09

I-65 North End Throwback

I-65 North at I-90 Indiana Toll Road

I-65 north at I-90/Indiana Toll Road - 2002

Interstate 65 north at the former intersection with the access road (Exit 262) to the Indiana Toll Road. Removed during 2003-04 construction, this traffic signal was replaced with an interchange. Photo by Brian Dowd (12/02/02).

US 12 US 20 East at I-65

I-90/Indiana Toll Rd east I-65/US-12-20 - 2003

The older ground level sign posted one half mile west of Exit 17 along Interstate 90 east. Photo by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).

US 12 US 20 West at I-65

US 12/20 west at I-65 - 2002

U.S. 12/20 (Dunes Highway) westbound leaves the Aetna community of east Gary and approaches the trumpet interchange for I-90 (Indiana Toll Road). The sign bridge displaying advance overheads for I-65 south and the toll road was removed. Photo by Brian Dowd (12/02/02).

I-65 South at I-90 Indiana Toll Road

I-65 south at I-90/Indiana Toll Road - 2002

Southbound view of Interstate 65 at the former stoplight between the freeway end and Indiana Toll Road (I-90). This signal was removed in 2003-04 and replaced with an interchange. Within Lake County, Interstate 65 is designated the Casimir Pulaski Memorial Highway. Photo by Brian Dowd (06/15/02).

I-65 south at I-90/Indiana Toll Road - 2002

This guide sign directed traffic at the signalized intersection linking Interstate 90 with I-65 south. Photo by Brian Dowd (06/15/02).

South End I-10 – Mobile, Alabama

I-65 South at I-10

I-65 south at I-10 - Mobile, AL

The first sign for Interstate 10 precedes the six-ramp parclo interchange (Exit 1) with U.S. 90 (Government Boulevard) along I-65 south. ALDOT typically posts two-mile advance signs for Interstate to Interstate junctions. 11/25/14

I-65 south at I-10 - Mobile, AL

I-65 southbound gains a fourth lane from the U.S. 90 eastbound entrance ramp to Interstate 10. A diagrammatic overhead outlines the configuration for I-10 where three lanes default onto westbound to Biloxi, Mississippi and two onto eastbound for Pensacola, Florida. 11/25/14

I-65 south at I-10 - Mobile, AL

The final southbound reassurance shield of Interstate 65 stands between U.S. 90 and the Halls Mill Road overpass. 11/25/14

I-65 south at I-10 - Mobile, AL

Florida and Mississippi are used for the control points of Interstate 10 at the south end of I-65. I-10 control cities otherwise are Pensacola for eastbound and Pascagoula for westbound. 11/25/14

I-65 south at I-10 - Mobile, AL

Ramps for Interstate 65 to I-10 are assigned Exit number zero, but only at their separation. I-10 continues east six miles to Downtown Mobile and the George Wallace Tunnel and west 20 miles to the Mississippi state line. 11/25/14

I-10 East at I-65

I-10 east at I-65 - Mobile, AL

The collector distributor from the cloverleaf interchange (Exit 17) with SR 193 (Exit 17) returns to eastbound I-10 two miles ahead of Interstate 65 north in Mobile. Photo by Peter Johnson (02/23/20).

I-10 east at I-65 - Mobile, AL

The first of two diagrammatic overheads for Interstate 65 (Exit 20) appears over I-10 eastbound at Riviere Du Chien Road. The forthcoming three-wye interchange uses left side ramps to and from Interstate 10 east. Photo by Peter Johnson (02/23/20).

I-10 east at I-65 - Mobile, AL

A two-lane ramp (Exit 20) takes motorists onto Interstate 65 north toward Montgomery, Birmingham and Atlanta via I-85 north. Photo by Peter Johnson (02/23/20).

I-10 east at I-65 - Mobile, AL

Exit 20 departs Interstate 10 east for I-65 north. Ramps from both directions of I-10 combine with four lanes leading north to U.S. 90 (Government Boulevard). Doubling as a commuter route, I-65 remains with six lanes to Saraland. Photo by Peter Johnson (02/23/20).

I-10 West at I-65

I-10 west at I-65 - Mobile, AL

Two miles east of the three wye interchange (Exit 20) with Interstate 65 north on I-10 west. 05/06/16

I-10 west at I-65 - Mobile, AL

The entrance ramps from Alabama Route 163 form an auxiliary lane west to Interstate 65 north. I-10 maintains three through lanes toward Tillmans Corner. 05/06/16

I-10 west at I-65 - Mobile, AL

Two lanes prepare to depart I-10 west for Interstate 65 north. Beyond U.S. 43 (Exit 19), the freeway turns northeastward across the Mobile and Tensaw Rivers on a rural drive 171 miles north to Montgomery. 05/06/16

I-10 west at I-65 - Mobile, AL

The bulk of traffic utilizing Exit 20 from I-10 west is local. The northbound freeway travels through the Midtown Mobile area accompanied by commercialized frontage roads. 05/06/16

I-65 North

I-65 north after I-10 - Mobile, AL

The first confirming marker for Interstate 65 appears just beyond the merge of ramps from I-10. 11/21/14

Sources:

  1. Larry Cody, email: “I-65 Terminus in Mobile Al,” August 15, 2003.
  2. Alabama Department of Transportation — Construction. ALDOT.
  3. Reconstruction of I-65. (http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/information-office/hotprojects/I-65.htm) Tennessee Department of Transportation.
  4. Kentucky-Indiana Bridges. http://www.kyinbridges.com project web site.
  5. “Bridge plan cost soars to $3.9 billion: New plan: Build eastern span first,” by Marcus Green, Louisville Courier-Journal, December 5, 2006.
  6. Indiana Highway Ends – I-65. http://www.highwayexplorer.com/EndsPage.php?id=3065&section=1
  7. Ohio River crossing breaks ground; new bridge means better connections for people and commerce.Fast Lane, The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, June 20, 2013.
  8. “New downtown bridge named after Abraham Lincoln.” WHAS, November 30, 2015.
  9. “Abraham Lincoln Bridge opens to northbound traffic.” WHAS, December 7, 2015.
  10. Re: I-65 downtown crossing ” online posting by cabiness42, AARoads Forum, October 10, 2016.
  11. Re: I-65 downtown crossing ” online posting by cabiness42, AARoads Forum, November 11, 2016.

Page updated May 13, 2020.