Interstate 64 in West Virginia

From the AARoads Wiki: Read about the road before you go
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Interstate 64

I-64 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by WVDOH and WV Parkways Authority
Length188.75 mi[1] (303.76 km)
NHSEntire route
Major junctions
West end I-64 at Kentucky state line
Major intersections
East end I-64 / US 60 at Virginia state line
CountryUnited States
StateWest Virginia
CountiesWayne, Cabell, Putnam, Kanawha, Fayette, Raleigh, Summers, Greenbrier
Highway system
WV 63 WV 65

Interstate 64 (I-64) is an Interstate Highway in the US state of West Virginia. It travels east–west through the state for 189 miles (304 km) passing by the major towns and cities of Huntington, Charleston, Beckley, and Lewisburg.

Route description

I-64 crosses the Kanawha River four times and the New River once. From top (north to south), the Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge, South Charleston–Dunbar Bridge, Eugene A. Carter Memorial Bridge, Chuck Yeager Memorial Bridge, and Mary Draper Ingles Bridge

I-64 travels for 189 miles (304 km) within the state of West Virginia, passing by the major cities of Huntington, Beckley, and Lewisburg and directly through the capital city of Charleston. It has only two major junctions within the state: I-77 in Charleston and in Beckley. It also crosses the Kanawha River a total of four times in a 20-mile (32 km) stretch (twice west of Charleston, immediately before entering the downtown Charleston area, then approximately five miles [8.0 km] east of downtown Charleston in Kanawha City).

Between I-64's two junctions with I-77, I-64 and I-77 overlap. From the final crossing of the Kanawha River east of Charleston to their split at exit 40 south of Beckley, the two Interstates are tolled, forming a part of the West Virginia Turnpike.

While the two expressways overlap, the exit signs are those for I-77. Thus, eastbound travelers entering from Kentucky will see exit numbers increase until exit 60, at which time I-77's exit numbers are used, decreasing from exit 100.


Early beginnings

The first segment of I-64 in West Virginia to be let to construction was in Cabell County in 1957. This segment, from US Route 60 (US 60) at milepost 15 to Ona at milepost 20, was completed in 1960.[2]

In 1962, a lengthy segment from exit 28 at Milton to just west of exit 44 was opened to traffic.[2] This included exits 34 and 39. One year later, I-64 was completed to exit 44, serving originally West Virginia Route 17 (WV 17), now WV 817 near St. Albans.

In 1964, an eight-mile (13 km) segment of the Interstate opened from exit 20 at Ona to exit 28 at Milton.[2]

1965 saw the completion of a major part of I-64. A lengthy segment opened from the Kentucky state line (milepost 0) to exit 15 at Barboursville.[2] This consisted of four interchanges: Kenova and Ceredo at milepost 1, the West Huntington Expressway (WV 94, later US 52) at milepost 6, US 52 and downtown Huntington (later WV 152/WV 527) at milepost 8, and Hal Greer Boulevard and WV 10 at milepost 10. Two steel-girder bridges were completed over the Big Sandy River connecting Kentucky to West Virginia. That bridge was replaced in 2000 in a reconstruction effort that raised the bridge level and replaced deteriorating bridge girders.

In 1966, the first Kanawha River crossing was completed with new Interstate mainlines extending from exit 44 near St. Albans to exit 50 at Institute under four contracts.[2] This included three new interchanges: Nitro at milepost 45, Cross Lanes at milepost 47, and Institute at milepost 50. One year later, I-64 was extended eastward to Dunbar at milepost 52.4 with a new interchange constructed at that location. For six years, the Interstate would end just outside Charleston's borders.

Charleston's routing troubles

The US 119 (Corridor G) Fort Hill interchange under construction in 1973 in Charleston

Planning for the routing of I-64, as well as for I-77 and I-79 through Charleston, was embroiled in controversy since the 1950s. Several alignments were considered which included a northern arc around the Charleston metropolitan area, a downtown route, and a southern arc south of South Charleston.

The mayor at the time, John Shanklin, mayor for eight years from 1959 to 1967, was originally a strong opponent of any Interstate Highway going through the center of the city. Shanklin reversed his decision soon after and stated that Charleston can adjust to the impact and that it will eventually become a "great thing".

In 1971, the city and many residents were swimming in controversy over the proposed routes of the Interstate Highways. The long planned Interstates through West Virginia were either to run directly through the city center or to skirt it.

The plan was to bring I-64 through the Triangle District, just west of the downtown center, an urban blight, where many of the city's Black population lived. Home to the city's highest crime rates where shootings daily were common; it was referred to as the "Red Light District". Urban renewals in the past had failed. Residents living in the Triangle District formed committees and rebelled. They called the highway routing foolish because it wanted to make Charleston just another exit on an endless ribbon of concrete and that it was racist because the Black population would bear the brunt of the relocation.

Federal transportation secretary John A. Volpe stalled for months at the decision on the routing of I-64 through Charleston. By late 1971, however, the final decision was made to route the Interstate through the Triangle District. The Triangle Improvement Council fought the decision for the downtown routing and took its case to the US Supreme Court. They failed, however, as they had no basis for their case. Construction began in September 1971, cutting away parts of 14 mountains and demolishing over 1,000 homes on the south banks of the Kanawha River. WV 14 and other roads were relocated. The Fort Hill project, named so because of the mountain that lies near the massive US 119 interchange, became one of the largest earth-moving projects on the North American continent up to that point and one of the biggest changes that Charleston has ever known.

In 1971, construction began for the connection between the I-77/I-64 interchange at exit 101 (I-77 milepost 101.64) and exit 96 (milepost 95.87).[2] In 1974, I-64 opened to traffic from milepost 52.4, two miles (3.2 km) east of exit 50 at Institute to exit 55 (milepost 55.45). This included the construction of an interchange at milepost 54 for US 60 and WV 601 and a second Kanawha River span. When the river crossing was completed, it was one of the largest steel girder bridges in the US at the time. Also, I-77/I-64 opened from exit 100 (milepost 100.16) to exit 99 (milepost 99.12).[2]

In 1975, I-64 was completed to I-77 which included the US 119 Fort Hill interchange (exit 58A) at milepost 57.48. This segment also involved the construction of the third Kanawha River span, exits 58B and 58C and the I-77 junction at milepost 58.78. This three-level junction spans local streets and is the largest interchange in West Virginia with piers embedded in buildings, over water, and over nearby streets. This also included the viaduct over the Triangle District.[2]

In 1976, I-77/I-64 opened from exit 96 (milepost 95.87) to the northern terminus of the West Virginia Turnpike at milepost 99.12 (exit 99). The Interstate concurrency was opened to traffic from exit 100 (milepost 100.16) to exit 101 (milepost 101.64). This completed the last segment of Interstate within Charleston city limits.[2]

Charleston east to Virginia

Entering West Virginia from Virginia on I-64.

The alignment of I-64 was to originally parallel US 60 from Charleston to the Virginia state line. This would go through environmentally sensitive areas such as Hawks Nest and the New River Gorge area and might have disrupted the natural beauty and the isolation of the area.

I-64 at Sandstone Mountain in Raleigh County

In 1969, Governor Arch A. Moore Jr. announced a delay in the construction of I-64 east of Charleston. He concluded that a study needed to be done on whether the highway should run parallel to US 60 east of Charleston. On March 28, 1974, Governor Moore concluded that I-64 would be routed from Sam Black Church almost due west to a junction with the West Virginia Turnpike (I-77) near Beckley, rather than following the US 60 alignment as initially proposed. From that point, I-64 was concurrent with the northern portion of an upgraded West Virginia Turnpike to reach the Charleston area. This section of I-64 is the only portion of the highway which is a toll road.

I-64 at Sandstone Mountain in Raleigh County. This is a seven-percent grade.

In 1971, I-64 was completed from WV 12 (milepost 161.46) to the Virginia state line at milepost 184.02. This included six interchanges: exit 161 for WV 12, exit 169 for US 219 and Lewisburg, exit 175 for US 60 for White Sulphur Springs, exit 181 for US 60 (westbound only), and exit 183 for WV 311 (eastbound only). It was extended westward to exit 156 (milepost 155.98) at Sam Black Church in 1973.[2]

View east along I-64 east of WV 20 in Sandstone

The final segment of I-64 to be completed was between Sam Black Church and the West Virginia Turnpike near Beckley.[2] This revised Interstate alignment traverses through an entirely rural area with extremely rugged terrain. Opened in 1988, this final portion is 38 miles (61 km) long and costed approximately $300 million (equivalent to $667 million in 2023[3]) to construct, making it one of the most expensive segments of Interstate Highway in the US at $7.8 million per mile ($4.8 million/km; equivalent to $17.3 million per mile [$11 million/km] in 2023[3]). It has some extremely rugged terrain, with one segment boasting a seven-percent grade downhill eastbound for seven miles (11 km) at Sandstone Mountain. Anticipating loss of braking situations, two emergency truck escape ramps were built to be used by runaway trucks. These emergency ramps were used with such frequency that, in addition to large warning signs alerting truckers to the steep grade, a special truck speed advisory system was installed to automatically weigh each truck and indicate the speed at which it should begin the downhill section.

Even with careful adherence to reduced speeds for truckers, the journey from Charleston to Lewisburg is far quicker and far safer on I-64 than the older routing via US 60, much of which winds through the mountains as the Midland Trail, a two-lane scenic byway, passing through hamlets such as Rainelle and Ansted.

Between mileposts 129 and 133, also in Raleigh County, is the Phil G. McDonald Bridge, also known as the Glade Creek Bridge, a 2,179-foot-long (664 m) deck truss bridge,[4] towering 700 feet (210 m) above the creekbed.[5][6]

The New River crossing is at milepost 137 on the Mary Draper Ingles Bridge, named after an American pioneer.[7][8] The highway also traverses through a wildlife refuge and marsh near milepost 154.

Continuing improvements

Continuing improvements and new interchanges were discussed throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Exit 20, the main road to the Huntington Mall and its associated developments along with US 60, was originally constructed as a diamond interchange that served Ona and US 60. The land surrounding the interchange was entirely rural and would not be developed until 1981 when Huntington Mall was completed. The diamond interchange configuration was reconstructed into a five-ramp partial cloverleaf interchange. Exit 20A served US 60 while exit 20B was for Huntington Mall. By 2001, development consumed both sides of the Interstate. On holiday shopping days, traffic would congest at the interchange and cause major backups on the Interstate. In 2001, the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) constructed a new ramp, exit 20A, that would serve US 60 and the west end of Huntington Mall. The original exit 20A ramp was removed. Exit 20B was kept, for the most part, in its current position with a left turn lane added that allowed it to serve the east end of Huntington Mall, Melody Farm Road, and US 60. In the same year, a new interchange opened for WV 193 (Merritts Creek Connector) at Barboursville. Exit 18 serves a new four-lane highway that links US 60 and WV 2 together.

In 2002, cable barriers were installed in the median from milepost 6 to milepost 15 as a stopgap measure. These new barriers, installed for $2 million (equivalent to $3.24 million in 2023[3]), required the regrading of the median and upgrades to the drainage system. These new protective devices have proved to be worthwhile, preventing many crossover accidents which have plagued the highway since the 1990s, mostly attributed to an increase in traffic on the overburdened Interstate Highway. This cable barrier system was extended to exit 28 at Milton in 2005, and future measures will ensure that the rest of the Interstate Highway system in West Virginia, where a depressed grassy median of similar width exists, will receive one.

Aging roadbeds and bridges are of large concern to the WVDOT. Many Interstate Highway spans are approaching the end of their useful life span, several nearing 40 years of age. One such span was in the Huntington–Ashland metropolitan area which showed significant signs of deterioration. The WV 10/Hale Greer Boulevard crossings were approaching 40 years of life and decayed to the point where regular maintenance was needed. A three-by-three-foot (0.91 by 0.91 m) segment of the westbound bridge collapsed in early 2002 after a harsh winter, for example, and this only highlighted the problems being experienced on the original I-64 spans. The two spans at WV 10 were replaced with a new wider crossing in 2009.

In 2003, the demolition of the West Pea Ridge Road overpass began. The bridge, built in 1961, utilized steel girders that had become deteriorated over the years and were replaced with prestressed concrete beams. Construction was completed in late 2004.

The second Kanawha River crossing between Dunbar and South Charleston was twinned. The new bridge, carrying eastbound traffic, was finished in October 2010. The old bridge was rehabilitated and converted to oneway traffic, with completion in October 2012. The combined bridges carry six throughlanes, three in each direction, with two auxiliary lanes to service the Dunbar and MacCorkle avenue exits on each side of the bridge. The mainspan of the new eastbound structure, at 760 feet (230 m), is the longest box girder span in the US. With the completion of the new eastbound bridge and the rehabilitation of the existing bridge for westbound traffic, I-64 has at least six lanes from Charleston to Nitro.[9]

As of 2021, the third Kanawha River crossing at Nitro is currently under reconstruction in a project very similar to the South Charleston expansion. The Nitro crossing will be twinned, with the new bridge carrying westbound traffic. The existing bridge will be demolished and rebuilt to carry eastbound traffic. The combined spans will carry six throughlanes, three in each direction, with two auxiliary lanes servicing the Nitro and St. Albans exits on each side of the bridge. The project will also include new bridges over Rocky Step Road and McCloud Road and result in six throughlanes (three in each direction) from Charleston to the interchange with US 35. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2023.[10][needs update]

Other notable recent projects:

  • The Darnell Road Bridge replacement is just west of the Barboursville/US 60 interchange at milepost 15. The four-lane span is being replaced with a six-lane crossing at a cost of $7.5 million (equivalent to $10.9 million in 2023[3]). It was completed in mid-2006.
  • The Hubbard Branch overpass near milepost 2 was replaced in 2005.
  • The Edgewood Drive overpass near milepost 3 and the 19th Street overpass near milepost 5.5 and exit 6 was replaced in 2006.
  • The Crossroads underpass to tunnel conversion was completed in 2006 at milepost 12.
  • The $5-million (equivalent to $6.9 million in 2023[3]) Milton interchange project at milepost 28 was completed in 2009.
  • A new US 35 interchange in Teays Valley was started in 2003 and is now complete. A hybrid semi-directional T/diamond interchange connects I-64 to the new US 35 corridor route from Teays Valley to the previous US 35 alignment near Buffalo. In addition, I-64 has been widened to six lanes between this interchange and exit 39 at WV 34.
  • Widening began on a segment from Nitro to Dunbar in 2001 and was completed in 2004.

The state's long-term construction forecast, for a six-lane Interstate from milepost 6 at West Huntington to Charleston and bridge replacements west of milepost 6 to the Kentucky state line, will take 30 years to complete at present funding levels and cost more than $325 million.


The portion from the Charleston city limits to the Kentucky state line is signed as the "Cecil H. Underwood Freeway", named after the 25th and 32nd governor of West Virginia. The portion in the city limits of Charleston is signed as the "Nurse Veterans Highway". The portion from the West Virginia Turnpike to the Virginia line is the Hulett Smith Freeway, named after the 27th governor of West Virginia.

Exit list

Big Sandy River0.000.00
I-64 west – Ashland
Continuation into Kentucky
Perry & Gentry Memorial Bridge
US 52 south / WV 75 – Kenova, Ceredo
West end of US 52 overlap
US 52 north – West Huntington, Ironton
East end of US 52 overlap

WV 152 south (5th Street East south) / WV 527 north (5th Street East north)
10.9617.6411 WV 10 (Hal Greer Boulevard) – Downtown Huntington
Barboursville14.5123.3515 US 60 (29th Street East)
WV 193 to WV 2 – Barboursville
West Mall Road to US 60
Eastbound exit only
CR 6089 (East Mall Road) to US 60 – Barboursville
Signed as exit 20 westbound
To US 60 (CR 13) – Milton
CullodenCR 6021 (Benedict Road)Under construction[11]
PutnamHurricane33.7754.3534 CR 19 – Hurricane
Mt. Vernon38.5962.1039 WV 34 – Teays Valley
Scott Depot40.3364.9040 US 35 – Winfield, Point PleasantHybrid semi-directional T/diamond interchange; all movements between I-64 and US 35 are free-flowing except for eastbound I-64 to northbound US 35
St. Albans43.3969.8344 WV 817 – St. Albans
Nitro44.3971.4445 WV 25 – Nitro
KanawhaCross Lanes47.2976.1147 WV 622 (Goff Mountain Road) – Cross LanesSigned as exits 47A (south) and 47B (north) eastbound
49.8780.2650 WV 25 – Institute
Dunbar52.2884.1453 WV 25 – Dunbar
CR 2525 (Roxalana Road) – Dunbar
Eastbound signage
Westbound signage
South Charleston53.5286.1354
US 60 (MacCorkle Avenue) to WV 601 (Jefferson Road)
Kanawha Turnpike to WV 601
Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
55.2588.9256 CR 5064 (Montrose Drive)
US 119 south / Oakwood Road – Logan
West end of US 119 overlap
US 119 north / Virginia Street – Civic Center
East end of US 119 overlap; westbound access via exit 58C
58C US 60 (Lee Street/Washington Street) – Civic CenterLee St. signed eastbound, Washington St. signed westbound

I-77 north to I-79 north – Parkersburg
West end of I-77 overlap; I-77 exit 101; left exit eastbound, left entrances
Interstate 64 overlaps with Interstate 77
I-77 south (West Virginia Turnpike south) – Bluefield
Tolled; east end of I-77 overlap; I-77 exit 40; left exit and entrance westbound
To US 19 (Eisenhower Drive) – Beckley
Last free exit westbound
CR 99 (Airport Road) to WV 307 – Beaver
Signed as exits 125A (WV 307) and 125B (CR 9/9) eastbound
128.04206.06129 CR 9 (Grandview Road) – Shady SpringSigned as exits 129A (south) and 129B (north) eastbound
132.65213.48133 CR 27 (Pluto Road) – Bragg
New RiverMary Draper Ingles Bridge
SummersSandstone138.15222.33139 WV 20 – Hinton, SandstoneAccess via CR 7 connector road
To WV 20 – Meadow Bridge, Green Sulphur Springs
Access via CR 4 connector road
Greenbrier149.55240.68150 CR 294 – Dawson
155.69250.56156 US 60 (Midland Trail) – Sam Black Church
Alta161.18259.39161 WV 12 – Alta
Lewisburg169.06272.08169 US 219 – Lewisburg, Ronceverte
White Sulphur Springs174.91281.49175

To US 60 / WV 92 – White Sulphur Springs, Caldwell
Access via CR 6014 connector road

US 60 west to WV 92 – White Sulphur Springs
West end of US 60 overlap; westbound exit and eastbound entrance
182.90294.35183 WV 311 – CrowsEastbound exit and westbound entrance

I-64 east / US 60 east – Lexington
Continuation into Virginia
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ Starks, Edward (January 27, 2022). "Table 1: Main Routes of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways". FHWA Route Log and Finder List. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved March 3, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Release Date Report. West Virginia Department of Transportation. August 2003.
  3. ^ a b c d e Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved November 30, 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the MeasuringWorth series.
  4. ^ "American Bridge – Glade Creek Bridge". American Bridge Company. Retrieved 2008-09-14.
  5. ^ "Phil G. McDonald Memorial Bridge Inspection Report" (PDF). West Virginia Division of Highways. September 24, 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 5, 2010.
  6. ^ "Phil G. McDonald Bridge". Highest Retrieved June 5, 2010.
  7. ^ "West Virginia @ AARoads – Interstate 64 West – Green Sulphur Springs to Beckley". Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  8. ^ "I-64 westbound exit 133". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  9. ^ I-64 Dunbar South Charleston Bridge. West Virginia Department of Transportation.
  10. ^ "Nitro – St. Albans | I-64 Improvement Project". Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  11. ^ Klein, Shayla (November 2, 2022). "New Interstate 64 exit in Culloden could help small businesses, economy". Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. Retrieved January 26, 2023.

External links

Media related to Interstate 64 in West Virginia at Wikimedia Commons

Interstate 64
Previous state:
West Virginia Next state: