Interstate 275 – Tennessee

Interstate 275 Tennessee
History
North End
South End

Overview

Knoxville, TN Map

I-275 is one of five Interstate highways serving the city of Knoxville. Additionally SR 158 (James White Parkway) spurs south from I-40 to U.S. 11/70 at Downtown and along the Tennessee River waterfront. SR 71 extends James White Parkway east across the Tennessee River to Sevierville Pike in South Knoxville.

Interstate 275 in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee links I-40 and U.S. 441 (Henley Street) at Downtown with I-75/640 and U.S. 25W (Clinton Highway) at Inskip. Paralleling a Norfolk Southern Railroad line, the urban freeway runs between the Mechanicsville and Lonsdale neighborhoods to the west and the Happy Holler, and Lincoln Park communities to the east. The north end of I-275 crosses Sharp Ridge through Sharp Gap.

Route Information

  • North End – Knoxville, TN

  • South End – Knoxville, TN

  • Mileage – 2.98

  • Cities – Knoxville

  • JunctionsI-40 I-75

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

I-275 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

Location Vehicles per day
I-40 to Exit 1A 75,829
Exits 1A to 1B 74,393
Exits 1B to 2 71,227
Exits 2 to 3 71,126

Source: 2018 Traffic Map – Knox County, Tennessee Department of Transportation

History

Interstate 275 in Knoxville was constructed in 1958 as part of the I-75 mainline through Knoxville. Changes to I-75 were made ahead of the December 1980 scheduled opening for the western leg of I-640 between I-40/75 near Marble City and I-75/U.S. 25W by Inskip. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) requested approval from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to renumber I-75 from I-40 in the Downtown area to I-640 north of Sharp Ridge as I-275 and reroute I-75 along the western leg of I-640. The application sent December 6, 1979 cited the following reasons:

1. By routing I-75 along the western leg of I-640 rather than its existing route through town, travel distance can be reduced by 1.79 miles, a substantial savings in travel time and fuel consumption.

2. At the present time through traffic on I-75 must traverse nine interchanges and one major directional interchange along its route through town. The proposed routing along I-640 includes only two interchanges. With less merging and diverging traffic conditions, the routing along I-640 would be desirable from a safety standpoint.

3. With this change, elimination of overlapping major Interstate routes, (I-40, I-75) would result in the downtown Knoxville area.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and TDOT came to an agreement following communications between November 1979 and January 1980. The I-75/640 overlap would be attributed solely to I-75’s mileage, and I-275 established as proposed. The changes were approved by AASHTO on June 24, 1980. The realignment of I-75 onto the bypass preceded reconstruction of I-40 east from Marble City to I-275 and the 1982 World’s Fair held in Knoxville.

U.S. 25W previously overlapped with I-75 north from I-40 outside Downtown Knoxville to the exchange with I-640 and Clinton Highway. When I-640 was completed to the northeast, U.S. 25W was rerouted from U.S. 11/70 (Magnolia Avenue) west to I-40 and from I-75 north. Central Street paralleling I-275 to the east is the original alignment of U.S. 25W.

A $20 million reconstruction project along Interstate 275 took place between December 1, 2006 and January 26, 2008. Work expanded portions of the freeway to six lanes and reconfigured three interchanges from cloverleaves to diamonds. The interchange modifications increased the ingress and egress movements from 300 feet to 1,200 feet.1 This upgrade was completed ahead of the “Smartfix40” widening of Interstate 40 east from Downtown Knoxville.

Highway Guides

North End I-75 US 25W – Inskip, Knoxville, Tennessee

I-275 North at I-75 I-640 US 25W

I-275 north at I-75/640-US 25W - Knoxville, TN

Interstate 275 advances two miles north from Oldham Avenue at Western Heights in Knoxville to the systems interchange (Exit 3) with I-75/640 and U.S. 25W (Clinton Highway). 11/03/11

I-275 north at I-75/640-US 25W - Knoxville, TN

Northbound Interstate 275 proceeds a half mile from the diamond interchange (Exit 2) with Heiskell Avenue to I-75/640 through Sharp Gap. 01/16/19

I-275 north at I-75/640-US 25W - Knoxville, TN

I-275 transitions into I-75 northbound toward Lexington, Kentucky with two lanes beyond Exit 3. I-75/640 overlap 3.60 miles southwest through West Haven to I-40 near West View. 01/16/19

I-275 north at I-75/640-US 25W - Knoxville, TN

Exit 3 leaves I-275 north for a connector with ramps to I-640/U.S. 25W east, I-75/640 west and U.S. 25W (Clinton Highway) north. 01/16/19

I-275 north at I-75/640-US 25W - Knoxville, TN

U.S. 25W runs along side Interstate 640 east 7.04 miles to I-40 by Loveland and Chilhowee Hills in east Knoxville. Photo by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

I-275 north at I-75/640-US 25W - Knoxville, TN

A loop ramp follows for I-75/640 south toward Chattanooga. U.S. 25W (Clinton Highway) extends northwest through Norwood in Knoxville toward the city of Clinton. Photo by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

I-75 South at I-275 I-640 US 25W

I-75 south at I-275/640-US 25W - Knoxville, TN

Interstate 75 comprises a six lane freeway through the northern suburbs of Knoxville between Exit 112 at SR 131 and the multi level exchange with I-275 south and I-640/U.S. 25W. 01/16/19

I-75 south at I-275/640-US 25W - Knoxville, TN

I-75 passes under Inskip Drive 0.4 miles ahead of the separation with Interstate 275 south to Downtown Knoxville. 01/16/19

I-75 south at I-275/640-US 25W - Knoxville, TN

The southbound mainline for Interstate 75 makes a TOTSO (turn off to stay on) connection with I-640 west as it continues toward I-40 and Chattanooga. This traffic pattern resulted from the 1980 realignment. 01/16/19

I-275 south at I-640-US 25W - Knoxville, TN

The initial stretch of I-275 south links I-75 with Interstate 640 east / U.S. 25W north along Sharp Ridge. 01/16/19

I-75 North I-640 East at I-275 US 25W

I-75/640 north at I-275/US 25W - Knoxville, TN

I-75/640 arc 3.60 miles northeast from I-40 to West Haven and I-275/U.S. 25W at Exit 3. The succeeding ramp (Exit 3B) connects with Gap Road north to U.S. 25W (Clinton Highway). 08/23/03

I-75/640 north at I-275/US 25W - Knoxville, TN

Interstate 640 continues 7.04 miles east from I-75/275 to Fountain City in Knoxville and I-40 near the Chilowee Hills and Loveland neighborhoods. 01/16/19

I-75/640 north at I-275/US 25W - Knoxville, TN

Interstate 75 makes a turn off to stay on (TOTSO) movement to continue north from I-640 and I-275. The mainline reduces to a single lane ramp north and southbound through the exchange. 01/16/19

I-640 West US 25W North at I-75 I-275

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - Knoxville, TN

I-640/U.S. 25W straddle Sharp Ridge to the north from Fountain City in Knoxville west to I-75/275 at Exit 3A. 01/16/19

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - Knoxville, TN

Succeeding ramps depart in one mile at Exits 3 A/B for I-75/275 and the continuation of U.S. 25W north along Clinton Highway. 01/16/19

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - Knoxville, TN

Interstate 75 travels northwest from Knoxville to Rocky Top and Caryville and then northeast along Pine Mountain to Jellico and the Kentucky line. 01/16/19

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - Knoxville, TN

Interstate 275 extends 2.98 miles southeast to I-40 and U.S. 441 (Henley Street) south to Downtown Knoxville and the University of Tennessee. 01/16/19

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - Knoxville, TN

Two lanes part ways with I-640 west / U.S. 25W north for I-75 north and I-275 south. La Follette lies 54 miles to the north. Chattanooga is 102 miles to the southwest. 01/16/19

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - Knoxville, TN

Single lane ramps connect with I-75 north to Lexington, Kentucky and I-275 south to the Knoxville central business district. Photo by Jeffrey Napier (01/02).

US 25W South at I-75 I-275 I-640

U.S. 25W south at I-75/275/640 - Knoxville, TN

U.S. 25W (Clinton Highway) ties into systems interchange joining I-75/275/640 from a commercial arterial to the west. Although omitted here, U.S. 25W combines with I-640 east along the succeeding loop ramp. Clinton Highway converges with I-275 at a wye. Photo by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

North End Throwback

I-275 North at I-75 I-640 US 25W

I-275 north at I-75/640-US 25W - 2003

A cloverleaf interchange joined I-275 north beyond the S-curve by Coster Yards with Heiskell Avenue to Central Street ahead of Exit 3 with I-75/640-U.S. 25W. Photo by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

I-275 north at I-75/640-US 25W - 2003

2006-08 reconstruction of I-275 added a third northbound lane through the exchange with Heiskell Avenue. Guide signs along this stretch predated the 1980 relocation of I-75 onto I-640. 08/23/03

I-275 north at I-75/640-US 25W - 2003

Sign replacements made by 2008 added Interstate 75 south for Exit 3. Photo by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

I-275 north at I-75/640-US 25W - 2003

Interstate 75 extends 165 miles north from I-275 and I-640 to Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

I-75 South at I-275 I-640 US 25W

I-75 south at I-275/640-US 25W - 2003

These overheads at the Inskip Drive overpass for the exchange joining I-75 south with I-275/640 were replaced in kind. 08/23/03

I-75 south at I-275/640-US 25W - 2003

Omitting the overlap with U.S. 25W south, the sign for Exit 3 to I-640 east at Tillery Drive was replaced in kind. 08/23/03

I-75 south at I-275/640-US 25W - 2003

Interstate 275 proceeds south through Sharp Gap to Lonsdale and Lincoln Park in Knoxville. I-640 east links I-75 south with I-40 east toward Dandridge and Asheville, North Carolina. 08/23/03

I-75 North I-640 East at I-275 US 25W

I-75/640 north at I-275/US 25W - 2003

A diagrammatic overhead replaced the individual sign panels for the split of I-640 east and I-75 north at Exit 3B for Gap Road. 08/23/03

I-75/640 north at I-275/US 25W - 2003

Passing under Gap Road, I-75/640 advanced a quarter mile east to I-275 at Exit 3. These bridge mounted signs were eventually taken down. 08/23/03

I-75/640 north at I-275/US 25W - 2003

Exit 3 separates into single lane ramps for Interstate 275 south to Downtown Knoxville and I-75 north toward Lexington, Kentucky. 08/23/03

I-640 West US 25W North at I-75 I-275

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - 2005

Replaced diagrammatic sign posted ahead of Exits 3 AB for I-75 north, I-275 south and U.W. 25W (Clinton Highway) north. Photo by Carter Buchanan (05/01/05).

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - 2005

Replaced diagrammatic sign posted ahead of Exits 3 AB for I-75 north, I-275 south and U.W. 25W (Clinton Highway) north. Photo by Carter Buchanan (05/01/05).

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - 2009

Replaced diagrammatic sign posted ahead of Exits 3 AB for I-75 north, I-275 south and U.W. 25W (Clinton Highway) north. 11/08/09

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - 2005

A third lane for I-640 was eventually added below the Norfolk Southern Railroad overpass at Exit 3A. Nashville lies 169 miles to the west via I-640 and I-40. Photo by Carter Buchanan (05/01/05).

I-640/US 25W west at I-75/275 - 2009

A third lane for I-640 was eventually added below the Norfolk Southern Railroad overpass at Exit 3A. Nashville lies 169 miles to the west via I-640 and I-40. 11/08/09

South End I-40 US 441 – Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee

I-275 South at I-40 US 441

I-275 south at I-40/US 441 - Knoxville, TN

Interstate 275 navigates through an S-curve between Murphy Avenue at the Beaumont neighborhood and Second Creek. The exchange with I-40 and U.S. 441 (Henley Street) follows in 1.25 miles. 11/08/09

I-275 south at I-40/US 441 - Knoxville, TN

I-275 concludes a half mile beyond Baxter Avenue at the systems interchange with I-40 and U.S. 441 (Henley Street) south. 01/16/19

I-275 south at I-40/US 441 - Knoxville, TN

I-40 runs west between West View and Fort Sanders to meet U.S. 129 (Alcoa Highway) south to Maryville nearby. I-40 east parallels U.S. 11/70 (Magnolia Avenue) by the Park City and Burlington neighborhoods. 01/16/19

I-275 south at I-40/US 441 - Knoxville, TN

The Interstate 275 southbound mainline defaults onto I-40 west while flyovers depart for I-40 east and U.S. 441 (Henley Street) south. 01/16/19

I-275 south at I-40/US 441 - 2009

Traffic partitions from I-275 south for Interstate 40 east and the connector to U.S. 441 (Henley Street) for Downtown Knoxville and the University of Tennessee. U.S. 441 leads south from Knoxville to Sevierville and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 11/08/09

US 441 North at I-275 I-40

US 441 north at I-275 - Knoxville, TN

U.S. 441 (Henley Street) runs along the Knoxville Convention Center north from Cumberland Avenue (former U.S. 11/70) to the entrance ramp for I-275 north. 01/16/19

I-275 north at I-40 - Knoxville, TN

A northbound viaduct spans Worlds Fair Park Drive and Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks ahead of the ramp for I-40 east to the Great Smoky Mountains and Asheville, North Carolina. 01/16/19

I-275 north at I-40 - Knoxville, TN

I-275 commences with two northbound lanes through the multi level interchange with Interstate 40 and U.S. 441 (Henley Street). A loop ramp connects with I-40 west toward Nashville and Chattanooga. 01/16/19

I-275 north at I-40 - Knoxville, TN

A lane drop occurs at the unnumbered ramp for Interstate 40 west. I-275 to I-75 leads 170 miles north to Lexington, Kentucky. 01/16/19

I-40 East at I-275

I-40 east at I-275 - Knoxville, TN

Interstate 40 navigates through a directional T interchange (Exit 386B) with U.S. 129 (Alcoa Highway) one mile west of I-275. 01/16/19

I-40 east at I-275 - Knoxville, TN

Exit 387 departs from I-40 east to Dale Avenue for 17th Street to Fort Sanders and SR 62 (Western Avenue). The succeeding ramps connect with I-275 north and U.S. 441 (Henley Street) south. SR 62 ends at U.S. 441 near City Hall. 01/16/19

I-40 east at I-275 - Knoxville, TN

The entrance ramp from U.S. 129 (Alcoa Highway) north expands Interstate 40 eastbound to five lanes. Back to back lane drops occur at Exit 387A for I-275 north and Exit 388 for the connector to U.S. 441 (Henley Street) south. 01/16/19

I-40 east at I-275 - Knoxville, TN

Two lanes separate from I-40 east at Exit 387A for Interstate 275 north to I-75 and Lexington, Kentucky. 01/16/19

I-40 West at I-275

I-40 west at I-275 - Knoxville, TN

Turning south from the Edgewood neighborhood toward Interstate 275, I-40 navigates through succeeding interchanges with Hall of Fame Drive and SR 158 (James White Parkway) west to Downtown Knoxville. 06/25/12

I-40 west at I-275 - Knoxville, TN

Four lanes westbound elevate across the Knoxville street grid north of Old City ahead of Exit 387A to I-275 north. This viaduct was constructed during the Smartfix40 project completed in 2009. Photo by Carter Buchanan (06/10/17).

I-40 west at I-275 - Knoxville, TN

The systems exchange (Exit 387A) joining Interstate 40 with I-275 north replaced a cloverleaf interchange. Photo by Carter Buchanan (06/10/17).

South End Throwback

I-275 South at I-40 US 441

I-275 south at I-40/US 441 - 2003

Prior to 2007, a series of three compact cloverleaf interchanges, including Exits 1 C/D for Oldham Avenue, joined I-275 with adjacent Knoxville neighborhoods. These were reconfigured by 2008 to eliminate weaving traffic patterns. 08/23/03

I-275 south at I-40/US 441 - 2009

11/08/09

I-275 south at I-40/US 441 - 2009

11/08/09

I-40 East at I-275

I-40 east at I-275 - 2003

Prior to the SmartFix40 reconstruction of Interstate 40, the eastbound mainline reduced to just two through lanes at the exchange with I-275. Photo by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

I-40 east at I-275 - 2003

U.S. 441 shifts southward from Broadway onto Henley Street along the west side of Downtown. U.S. 441 spans the Tennessee River across the Henley Street Bridge to South Knoxville. Photo by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

I-40 West at I-275

I-40 west at I-275 - 2003

One half mile ahead of I-275 along I-40 west prior to the SmartFix40 reconstruction. Photo by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

I-40 west at I-275 - 2003

The viaduct along I-40 west over U.S. 441 (Broadway) and the Norfolk Southern Railroad leading into the exchange with I-275 was completely rebuilt during the SmartFix40 project. An entrance ramp from Magnolia Avenue (U.S. 11-70) previously merged here.2 Photo by Chris Patriarca (03/22/03).

Sources:

  1. “Highway headaches Motorists will get plenty before latest interstate changes finished.” Knoxville News-Sentinel, February 11, 2008.
  2. Dan Moraseski, email: “ghost ramp near I-275 south end.” September 3, 2003.

Page updated July 1, 2021.