Interstate 195 is an urban freeway spur branching southwest from I-64/95 (Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike) to Carytown in the city of Richmond. The Beltline Expressway accompanies a CSX Railroad corridor between the Malvern Gardens community and the Museum District. The south end splits into branches for the tolled Powhite Parkway (SR 76) west to Midlothian and the tolled Downtown Expressway (SR 195) back to Interstate 95.
Plans for the Richmond Expressway System were announced in October 1966. As originally envisioned, the $90 to 95 million system would consist of four segments:1
- Beltline Expressway – a four to six lane route running northeast from near Willow Oaks on the south banks of the James River to Bryan Park on the North Side of the city.
- Downtown Expressway – a six lane roadway angling southeast from the Beltline Expressway along Idlewood Avenue to the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike near Main Street Station.
- Powhite Parkway – an expressway linking Chippenham Parkway in Chesterfield County to the Beltline Expressway at Willow Oaks. This route would follow the Powhite creekbed and Southern Railway line.
- Riverside Parkway – paralleling the south bank of the James River, between the Powhite Parkway and Huguenot Bridge. Provisions were considered for an extension of this leg west into Henrico County, including a bridge across the James to the west of the Huguenot Bridge.
Tolls collected on the expressway system were proposed mostly at 15 cents, with selected locations levying either 10 or 25 cents. Speed limits were to be set at 50 miles per hour.1
The Beltline Expressway opened in 1975.2 The route of I-195 was approved by AASHTO on June 9, 1986.