Interstate 275 – Cincinnati, Ohio Beltway

Interstate 275 Kentucky Interstate 275 Ohio Interstate 275 Indiana
History
North End
South End

Overview

Interstate 275 follows the Donald H. Rolfe Circle Freeway around the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area. The beltway runs concurrent with a 3.45 mile section of I-74 and spans the Ohio River across two high level bridges. I-275 is the only branch route within the Interstate Highway System to enter three states. Furthermore, I-275 in Indiana is the only instance of a branch route entering a state in which the parent route does not.

The Circle Freeway mostly acts as a commuter route for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and the various suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington and Newport, Kentucky. The beltway also provides a bypass from southeast Indiana to Northern Kentucky and part of an alternate route avoiding the Brent Spence Bridge along I-71/75 across the Ohio River.

History

Interstate 275 was part of the urban Interstate numerology for Ohio approved by the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) on November 10, 1958. Originally classified as Interstate Route A-74, the initial route constituted an arc bypassing Cincinnati to the north from I-74 at Miamitown east to I-71 ear Highpoint.

Some portions of Interstate 275 in Ohio were opened by 1961. The beltway was fully completed in the Buckeye State by 1980.1 It was formally named the Donald H. Rolf Circle Freeway in 1982.5

The short segment of I-275 through Indiana, including the Carol C. Cropper Bridge over the Ohio River, was finished in 1979.2

The course of I-275 through Boone County, Kentucky was selected based upon a desire to include Indiana in the planning for a Greater Cincinnati circle freeway. The idea for a new bridge spanning the Ohio River from Boone County dated back to the early 1950s with support of Boone County Judge Carroll Cropper and U.S. Representative Earl Wilson of Indiana. A bill was introduced by Rep. Wilson in April 1956 for the establishment of the Lawrenceburg Bridge Company. It involved financing construction of a new span with a bond issue and paying bonds off with tolls. The bill passed, but with 1958 cost estimates of $10 million for the bridge, progress crawled.4

Planning was underway during the late 1950s for the Circumferential Highway through the Cincinnati suburbs east from U.S. 50 in Cleves to U.S. 25 in Clermont County. Those plans were eventually combined with the Boone County bridge concept in November 1961 as part of the Greater Cincinnati Metropolitan Area Bypass.4

Renamed the Circle Freeway, the Federal Bureau of Public Lands approved the alignment for I-275 across Northern Kentucky in March 1963. The 24 mile long route was estimated to cost $50 million and land acquisition was underway by 1967.3

Petersburg was selected for the Ohio River crossing in Boone County instead of a location closer to Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Bids for construction on the new bridge were taken by the state in March 1968, with construction of the four main piers in the Ohio River underway by June 1968.4

Pier construction extended to Summer 1972, when work started on the steel floor beams for the bridge. The bridge project culminated in Kentucky in May 1974, leaving just the deck to be completed. However on the Indiana side of the river, contracts for I-275 paving were just being awarded. As such, the bridge was relegated to sit idle for several years.4

A dedication ceremony was scheduled for December 6, 1977, but a major snowstorm forced the event to take place indoors and delayed the bridge opening. Bridge proponent Carroll Cropper did not live to see the span completed, but he was honored as the bridge’s namesake by Governor Julian Carroll.4

The Kenton County portion of Interstate 275 was finished on November 10, 1977 with the opening between U.S. 25 (Dixie Highway) and KY 16 (Taylor Mill Road).5 The remainder of I-275 across Kentucky was completed in December 1979,4 with the dedication of the Combs-Heel Bridge in Campbell County on December 19. The cantilever bridge is named for Governor Bert Combs and Campbell County Judge-Executive Lambert Hehl.5

Route Information

  • North End – Sharonville, OH

  • South End – Erlanger, KY

  • Total Mileage – 83.71

Mileage

Indiana – 3.16

  • Cities – Greendale, Lawrenceburg

  • Junctions – none

Kentucky – 24.58

  • Cities – Erlanger, Edgewood, Lakeside Park, Fort Wright, Taylor Mill, Wilder, Highland Heights, Fort Thomas

  • JunctionsI-71 I-75 I-471

Ohio – 55.97*

  • Cities – Cincinnati, Sharonville, Springdale

  • JunctionsI-74 I-75 I-71

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 3.45 miles on I-74

I-275 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky - 1973
Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky – 1973
The westbound direction of Interstate 275 was shown as complete between the four-level interchange with I-71/75 at Erlanger and KY 212 to then Greater Cincinnati Airport. The remainder of the beltway in Kentucky was under construction or proposed.

Highway Guides

North End – I-75 – Sharonville, Ohio

I-275 East at I-75

I-275 east at I-75 - Springdale, OH

I-275 meets SR 747 (Princeton Pike) adjacent to Tri-County Mall in Springdale, one mile ahead of Exit 43A for I-75 south. Photo by Eric Stuve (05/14/17).

I-275 east at I-75 - Springdale, OH

I-275 proceeds east from the six-ramp parclo interchange (Exit 42) with SR 747 to Interstate 75. Photo by Eric Stuve (05/14/17).

I-275 east at I-75 - Springdale, OH

Two lanes depart at forthcoming Exit 43 for Interstate 75 south to Cincinnati and the northern suburbs of Arlington Heights, Rensselaer Park and Saint Bernard. Photo by Eric Stuve (05/14/17).

I-275 east at I-75 - Springdale, OH

Interstate 75 south reaches Downtown Cincinnati in 16 miles. Photo by Eric Stuve (05/14/17).

I-275 east at I-75 - Sharonville, OH

Interstate 75 travels 44.5 miles north from the Circle Freeway to meet I-70 at Vandalia. I-275 proceeds east five miles to I-71 at the city of Blue Ash. Photo by Eric Stuve (05/14/17).

I-275 West at I-75

I-275 west at I-75 - Sharonville, OH

Interstate 275 runs across the city of Sharonville west to I-75 at Exit 43. Photo by Eric Stuve (09/24/17).

I-275 west at I-75 - Sharonville, OH

The forthcoming exchange with Interstate 75 lies 42 miles south of Dayton. Photo by Eric Stuve (09/24/17).

I-275 west at I-75 - Sharonville, OH

Interstate 275 westbound maintains three lanes through the directional cloverleaf interchange (Exit 43) with I-75. Photo by Eric Stuve (09/24/17).

I-275 west at I-75 - Sharonville, OH

A loop ramp (Exit 43A) joins I-75 south to Cincinnati from Interstate 275 west. The Circle Freeway continues into the city of Springdale. Photo by Eric Stuve (09/24/17).

I-75 North at I-275

I-75 north at I-275 - Sharonville, OH

Interstate 75 north enters the city of Sharonville at Exit 15, one mile ahead of I-275 (Circle Freeway). 11/08/09

I-75 north at I-275 - Sharonville, OH

The northern arc of the Cincinnati Beltway serves the communities of Northbrook, Forest Park, Springdale, Sharonville and Loveland. 11/08/09

I-75 north at I-275 - Sharonville, OH

Interstate 275 combines with I-74 west in 15.2 miles at Miamitown. 11/08/09

I-75 north at I-275 - Sharonville, OH

Eastward the Circle Freeway continues 29.6 miles from I-75 to the Kentucky state line on the Combs-Hehl Bridge. 11/08/09

I-75 South at I-275

I-75 south at I-275 - West Chester Twp, OH

Interstate 75 curves southward through West Chester Township ahead of the exchange with I-275 (Circle Freeway). Photo by Eric Stuve (10/11/15).

I-75 south at I-275 - West Chester Twp, OH

A collector distributor roadway separates from I-75 south for Interstate 275 beyond the Crescentville Road overpass and Sharonville city line. Photo by Eric Stuve (10/11/15).

I-75 south at I-275 - West Chester Twp, OH

Interstate 275 leads west to connect with I-74 for Indianapolis, Indiana and east to I-71 for Columbus. Photo by Eric Stuve (10/11/15).

I-75 south at I-275 - West Chester Twp, OH

Interstate 75 proceeds south 23.4 miles from I-275 at Sharonville, Ohio to I-275 at Erlanger, Kentucky. Photo by Eric Stuve (10/11/15).

South End I-71 I-75 – Erlanger, Kentucky

I-275 East at I-71 I-75

I-275 east at I-71/75 - Erlanger, KY

Exit 2 leaves I-275 east for KY 3076 (Mineola Pike) just ahead of the Kenton County line, two miles from I-71/75. 11/08/09

I-275 east at I-71/75 - Erlanger, KY

Two lanes separate from I-275 (Circle Freeway) east at the systems interchange (Exit 84) with I-71/75 in Erlanger. 11/08/09

I-275 east at I-71/75 - Erlanger, KY

I-71/75 combine northward 18.6 miles from Wilder to Downtown Cincinnati via the Brent Spence Bridge. 11/08/09

I-275 east at I-71/75 - Erlanger, KY

Two lanes separate from I-275 (Circle Freeway) east at the systems interchange (Exit 84) with I-71/75 in Erlanger. 11/08/09

I-275 West at I-71 I-75

I-275 west at I-71/75 - Crestview Hills, KY

A collector distributor roadway joins westbound I-275 with KY 1303 (Turkeyfoot Road) and U.S. 25-42-127 (Dixie Highway) one mile ahead of I-71/75. Photo by Carter Buchanan (11/14/04).

I-275 west at I-71/75 - Crestview Hills, KY

A collector distributor roadway joins westbound I-275 with KY 1303 (Turkeyfoot Road) and U.S. 25-42-127 (Dixie Highway) one mile ahead of I-71/75. Photo by Carter Buchanan (11/14/04).

I-275 west at I-71/75 - Erlanger, KY

Exit 83 separates from the Circle Freeway westbound at the Hulbert Avenue / Crescent Springs Pike overpass in Erlanger. Photo by Carter Buchanan (11/14/04).

I-71 I-75 South at I-275

I-71/75 north at I-275 - Florence, KY

I-71 and I-75 combine 11 miles northward from the city of Walton to the four level interchange (Exit 185) with Interstate 275. Photo by Eric Stuve (07/31/16).

I-71/75 north at I-275 - Erlanger, KY

Northbound I-75/71 at Exit 184 for KY 236 in the city of Erlanger. Ramps for the Circle Freeway east follow in 0.6 miles. Photo by Eric Stuve (12/31/17).

I-71/75 north at I-275 - Erlanger, KY

A lane drop occurs at Exit 185 along northbound for I-275 east to Taylor Mill, Wilder and Interstate 471 at Highland Heights. Photo by Eric Stuve (12/31/17).

I-71/75 north at I-275 - Erlanger, KY

Interstate 275 (Circle Freeway) runs northwest from Erlanger to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), Hebron and Idlewild. Photo by Eric Stuve (12/31/17).

I-71/75 north at I-275 - Erlanger, KY

Exit 185 combines with an entrance ramp from KY 236 ahead of the high speed ramps to I-275. I-275 wraps around the Cincinnati area west to Lawrenceburg, Indiana and east to the suburbs of Cherry Grove and Mount Carmel. Photo by Eric Stuve (12/31/17).

I-71 I-75 North at I-275

I-71/75 south at I-275 - Fort Mitchell, KY
I-71/75 south at I-275 - Fort Mitchell, KY

Advancing to Interstate 275, I-71/75 wind westward through Fort Mitchell and Crescent Springs to KY 371 (Buttermilk Pike) at Exit 186. 11/08/09

I-71/75 south at I-275 - Crescent Springs, KY

Interstate 275 (Circle Freeway) crosses I-71/75 west from the city of Crestview Hills to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). 11/08/09

I-71/75 south at I-275 - Erlanger, KY
I-71/75 south at I-275 - Erlanger, KY

Exit 185 separates from I-71/75 south for I-275 west to Lawrenceburg, Indiana and east to Highland Heights. 11/08/09

I-71/75 south at I-275 - Crescent Springs, KY

Interstate 275 (Circle Freeway) crosses I-71/75 west from the city of Crestview Hills to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). 11/08/09

Sources:

  1. Route 275 – The Unofficial Ohio State Highways Web Site (John Sampson). http://pages.prodigy.net/john.simpson/ highways/275.html
  2. Interstate 275 Cincinnati. http://www.cincinnati-transit.net/I-275.html Cincinnati-Transit.net (Jake Mecklenborg).
  3. “I-471’s birth slow to come – Plans and routes changed many times.” The Kentucky Post (Covington, KY), November 30, 1998.
  4. “Pieces of the past – Gold and silver anniversaries.” The Kentucky Post, May 24, 1993.
  5. “I-275 Changed Face of Northern Kentucky.” Kentucky Post, The (Covington, KY), July 8, 2002.

Page updated July 22, 2021.