Interstate 264 (Kentucky)

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Interstate 264

Watterson/Shawnee Expressway
I-264 highlighted in red
Route information
Auxiliary route of I-64
Maintained by KYTC
Length22.93 mi (36.90 km)
HistoryConstruction completed in 1974
NHSEntire route
Major junctions
West end I-64 / US 150 in Shawnee
Major intersections
East end I-71 in Glenview Manor
CountryUnited States
Highway system
KY 259 I-265

Interstate 264 (I-264) is a partial loop around the city of Louisville, Kentucky, south of the Ohio River. An auxiliary route of I-64, it is signed as the Shawnee Expressway for its first eight miles (13 km) from its western terminus at I-64/U.S. Route 150 (US 150) to US 31W/US 60 and as the Watterson Expressway for the remainder of its length from US 31W/US 60 to its northeastern terminus at I-71. It is 22.93 miles (36.90 km) in length and runs an open circle around central Louisville.[1] The highway begins four miles (6.4 km) west of Downtown Louisville at I-64 just east of the Sherman Minton Bridge, which links Southern Indiana with Kentucky as it crosses the Ohio River. The Interstate ends approximately six miles (9.7 km) northeast of Downtown Louisville, where it connects to I-71. It is the only auxiliary route of I-64 outside of Virginia.

I-264 is Louisville's inner beltway (in conjunction with I-64 and I-71), and the later constructed I-265, the Gene Snyder Freeway, is Louisville's outer beltway. I-264 is currently used as the primary detour route when I-64 is closed through Downtown Louisville. However, in late 2016 with the completion of the Lewis and Clark Bridge, the formerly separate segments of I-265 in Kentucky and Indiana have been connected to provide another detour route.

In discussions about the city, I-264 is often used as a rough line dividing the older areas of Louisville from its suburbs.


Eastbound I-264 on the approach to I-64 and Shelbyville Road exits

In 1948, a two-lane bypass was built between Shelbyville Road and US 31W (Dixie Highway) in Louisville as a relocation of US 60. It was named the "Watterson Expressway" after local journalist and editor Henry Watterson. In the late 1950s, work began to update the original two-lane road that was upgraded to a four-lane controlled-access highway while simultaneously extended to US 42 which would be finished by 1965. In the late 1960s, it would be extended further to its eastern terminus at I-71 as it was being built around the same time. Between 1970 and 1974, the western segment from Dixie Highway to I-64 northwest of Downtown Louisville was opened in segments when the entire expressway became part of the Interstate Highway System and designated as I-264. The original section from Dixie Highway to I-71 still retained the "Watterson Expressway" moniker and was cosigned, along with the original US 60 designation, as I-264, while the western segment was originally named the "Shawnee Expressway", even though signage referred to it simply as "I-264", with no mention of the "Shawnee Expressway" name. The Interstate was completed in 1974. The designation US 60 was dropped in 1984 when the original surface roads through Louisville were restored to their original US 60 designations. On April 1, 2010, the Kentucky General Assembly designated the western portion to be renamed as the Georgia Davis Powers Expressway.[2] The original Dixie Highway to I-71 segment signage reads as "I-264 Watterson Expressway", while the western segment signage still only reads as "I-264", with a small sign at both the western I-64 terminus and the Dixie interchange reading "Georgia Davis Powers Expressway".

Watterson Expressway reconstruction (1985–1995)

Junction of US 31E and I-264

The Watterson Expressway underwent a major reconstruction effort that began in 1985. The vintage freeway had outlived its useful purpose and had numerous characteristics that defined it as a blight on Louisville: deteriorating overpasses, buckling pavement, deficient and too closely spaced interchanges, and rampant congestion. Dozens of bridges were reconstructed and widened, and the majority of the interchanges were redesigned and rebuilt from the ground up from US 31W east to Shelbyville Road. The entire highway reconstruction project was completed in 1995.

A typical deficient interchange along I-264 was the I-65, Kentucky Exposition Center, and Louisville International Airport exit. Before the reconstruction, two cloverleafs with no collector–distributor lanes existed and posed serious weaving issues. The interchange today has been rebuilt and features numerous flyovers and collector–distributor lanes, making it safer though not necessarily easier to navigate.

Shawnee Expressway reconstruction (2003–2004)

The segment of I-264 from US 31W to the northwest I-64 interchange opened in segments from 1970 to August 1974 and received no more than emergency or spot patching. After several years of planning, in early 2003, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) began a rehabilitation project on this segment of Interstate Highway stretching from the US 31W interchange northwest to just east of Bank Street.

A concrete surface several inches thick was constructed on the mainline and access ramps, a new median barrier was formed, new lighting fixtures were installed, 37 bridges were rehabilitated, 380 new roadway signage was posted, and all guardrails were replaced as part of the 7.6-mile (12.2 km) project. In addition, the segment from River Park Drive to I-64, which was only two lanes, was widened to three lanes. No major ramp or interchange modifications were needed. The highway reconstruction project costed approximately $66 million (equivalent to $89.5 million in 2022[3]) and required 18 months of labor.

About 70,000 vehicles a day use the portion of I-264 near US 31W and about 40,000 daily use the segment near its western terminus with I-64.

KY 1447 interchange (2008–2010)

Although the Kentucky General Assembly considered plans for an interchange with Kentucky Route 1447 (KY 1447, Westport Road) as early as 1992, work did not begin until October 2008 and was completed in May 2010.[4][5][6][7]

Exit list

The entire route is in Louisville, Jefferson County.

0.00.00A-B I-64 / US 150 – Louisville, Lexington, New Albany, St. LouisWestern terminus; Westbound exit/eastbound entrance & signed as exit 0A (east) & left 0B (west); I-64 exit 1; tri-stack interchange.
0.20.321Bank Street / Northwestern ParkwayEastbound exit and westbound entrance
1.01.62Muhammad Ali Boulevard / River Park Drive
2.33.73Virginia Avenue / Dumesnil Street
3.55.64 KY 2054 (Algonquin Parkway) / KY 2056 (Bells Lane)Eastbound exit not signed for KY 2054/Algonquin Parkway
5 KY 1934 (Cane Run Road) / Ralph AvenueEastbound exit signed as exits 5A (Ralph Avenue, Cane Run Road north) and 5B (Cane Run Road south) eastbound
6.911.18 US 31W / US 60 (Dixie Highway) – Fort Knox, ShivelySigned as exits 8A (south/west) and 8B (north/east)
West of this exit, I-264 is the Georgia Davis Powers Expressway; east of this exit it is the Watterson Expressway.
8.613.89 KY 1865 (Taylor Boulevard)
9.615.410 KY 1020 (Southern Parkway) / 3rd Street
10.516.911Crittenden Drive – Kentucky Exposition Center
10.817.411Louisville International Airport
10.817.412Kentucky Exposition Center (Freedom Way)Westbound exit is part of exit 11
10.917.512 I-65 / KY 61 – Nashville, IndianapolisI-65 exit 131A northbound, 131A-B southbound; former northern terminus of the Kentucky Turnpike, I-65 continued north
Curtis Avenue, Durrett LaneWestbound exit and entrance closed 1986; eastbound exit and entrance closed 1987[8]
12.920.814 KY 864 (Poplar Level Road)
14.122.715 KY 1703 (Newburg Road)Signed as exits 15A (north) and 15B (south) westbound
15.124.316 US 31E / US 150 (Bardstown Road)
16.426.417 KY 155 (Taylorsville Road)Signed as exits 17A (south) and 17B (north)
17.227.718 KY 1932 (Breckenridge Lane)Signed as exits 18A (south) and 18B (north)
18.429.619 I-64 – Lexington, LouisvilleI-64 exit 12 westbound, 12A-B eastbound; signed as exits 19A (east) and 19B (west).
18.830.320 US 60 (Shelbyville Road) – Middletown, St. MatthewsSigned as exits 20A (east) and 20B (west)
20.432.821 KY 1447 (Westport Road)
21.634.822 US 42 / KY 22 (Brownsboro Road)
22.436.023 I-71 – Cincinnati, LouisvilleEastern terminus; Eastbound exit and westbound entrance; signed as left exit 23B (south) & 23A (north); I-71 exit 5; tri-stack interchange
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also


  1. ^ "Table 2 - Auxiliary Routes - FHWA Route Log and Finder List - Interstate Highway System - National Highway System - Planning". Federal Highway Administration. December 31, 2021. Retrieved 2022-03-18.
  2. ^ "House Joint Resolution 67" (PDF). Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  3. ^ Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved December 19, 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  4. ^ Alcock, Andy (April 29, 2010). "New I-264 Interchange Opens At Westport Road - Louisville News Story - WLKY Louisville". Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  5. ^ "Interstate 264 at Westport Road" (PDF). Retrieved February 1, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "KY 1447". March 31, 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  7. ^ "State to spend $47 million on I-264 at Westport Road interchange | Business First". September 22, 2008. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
  8. ^ Shapero, Ken (October 18, 1987). "Ramps at Watterson and I-65 are a-mazing for motorists". The Courier Journal. pp. B1. Retrieved October 25, 2018.

Further reading

  • Kleber, John E., ed. (2000). The Encyclopedia of Louisville. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2100-0.

External links