Interstate 65 in Kentucky

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Interstate 65

I-65 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by KYTC
Length137.32 mi[1] (221.00 km)
NHSEntire route
Major junctions
South end I-65 at Tennessee state line
Major intersections I-165 / KY 9007 near Bowling Green
US 231 in Bowling Green
Cumberland Parkway near Glasgow
Western Kentucky Parkway / KY 61 in Elizabethtown
Bluegrass Parkway in Elizabethtown
US 62 in Elizabethtown
I-265 in Louisville
I-264 in Louisville
I-64 / I-71 in Louisville
North end I-65 at Indiana state line
CountryUnited States
CountiesSimpson, Warren, Edmonson, Barren, Hart, LaRue, Hardin, Bullitt, Jefferson
Highway system
I-64 KY 66

Interstate 65 (I-65) enters the US state of Kentucky from Tennessee, five miles (8.0 km) south of Franklin. It passes by the major cities of Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, and Louisville before exiting the state into Indiana.

Route description

Along its 137.32-mile (221.00 km) length in Kentucky,[1] major attractions I-65 passes include the National Corvette Museum, Mammoth Cave National Park, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, and Fort Knox before entering the state's largest metropolitan area, Louisville.

It has interchanges with three of the state's parkways. The first of these is with the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway north of Bowling Green between Smiths Grove and Park City. At Elizabethtown, it has two more parkway interchanges with the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway and the Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Parkway.

I-65 also has interchanges with I-165 (formerly the William H. Natcher Parkway) near Bowling Green, I-265, I-264, and a complex junction with I-64 and I-71 along the south bank of the Ohio River in central Louisville. From there, northbound motorists on I-65 cross into Indiana on the Abraham Lincoln Bridge, while southbound I-65 traffic enters Kentucky from Jeffersonville, Indiana, via the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge.

The route is reportedly one of the heaviest traveled corridors in the US, with average daily traffic volumes of 50,000 to 70,000 vehicles. Most of the route has been widened to six lanes throughout the state. The widest stretch of I-65 in its entirety is in Louisville, at Kentucky Route 1065 (KY 1065, Outer Loop) where the mainline is 14 lanes wide, with seven lanes on each side.

I-65 northbound at the former William H. Natcher Parkway (now I-165) in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with Clearview font signage in 2007

The highway crosses the line between the Central Time Zone and Eastern Time Zone at the border of Hart and LaRue counties.

For most of 2016, the Ohio River Bridges Project routed all I-65 traffic onto the Abraham Lincoln Bridge (a six-lane cable-stayed bridge now carrying only northbound traffic) while rebuilding the deck of the 1963 John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge to accommodate six lanes of all-southbound traffic. The project is also completing the rebuild of the Kennedy Interchange just south of both bridges in Downtown Louisville.[2] On December 30, 2016, both I-65 bridges began using electronic toll collection (ETC) to charge motorists for their use of this previously toll-free Interstate crossing.[3]


When Interstate 65 signs first went up in Kentucky, state policy dictated that KY 65, a north-south route west of I-65, be renumbered. It was designated KY 259, which matched the telephone exchange prefix of the largest town it serves, Leitchfield.

Kentucky Turnpike

Kentucky Turnpike

Route information
Maintained by KYTC
Length39 mi[1] (63 km)
ExistedJuly 25, 1954–June 30,1975
Major junctions
South end Western Kentucky Parkway / KY 61 in Elizabethtown
Bluegrass Parkway in Elizabethtown
US 62 in Elizabethtown
I-265 in Louisville
North end I-65 / I-264 in Louisville
CountryUnited States
CountiesHardin, Bullitt, Jefferson
Highway system

From July 25, 1954, until June 30, 1975, the portion of I-65 from I-264 in Louisville to the Western Kentucky Parkway in Elizabethtown was a toll road bearing the Kentucky Turnpike name. It was signed with a distinctive sign featuring a cardinal, the state bird of Kentucky. Unlike most states, Kentucky law requires that tolls be removed when the original construction bonds are paid off and cannot be extended. The road was thus the first of the state's extensive system of toll roads to be made free.[4] Unlike the other roads, which maintain their separate names when becoming toll-free, the Kentucky Turnpike signs were removed with the tollbooths.

Original toll plazas and charges

The table below shows the original locations of the toll plazas and toll charges for consumer-sized, or class-one, vehicles.

Exit Location[5] Through cars charge Enter or exit
94 Elizabethtown (US 62) $0.10 N/A
117 Shepherdsville (KY 44) $0.50 $0.25
127 Louisville (KY 1065/Outer Loop) Free $0.10
128 Louisville (KY 1747/Fern Valley Road)
Full-length trip $0.60

Service areas

In addition to toll plazas, the Kentucky Turnpike also provided two service areas just south of Lebanon Junction and just north of Shepherdsville. They each provided a gas station and at least one fast food restaurant.[6] They both closed May 31, 1984. The former service areas were located in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes, and, when the former Turnpike was reconstructed into Interstate Highway standards in the early 1980s, this necessitated the removal of left exit and entrance ramps from the primary travel lanes. Initially, the rebuilt highway was routed around the service areas: to the east of the Shepherdsville service area allowing only southbound access and to the west of the Lebanon Junction service area allowing only northbound access; however, this arrangement was incompatible with the existing contracts with concession operators at the service areas. These contracts specified that both service areas would be accessible to both northbound and southbound traffic. Faced with either the construction of expensive crossover ramps at both locations or buying out the concession contracts, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) elected to buy out the concession contracts and close both service areas.[7]

21st century

On November 15, 2006, the stretch of I-65 from Bowling Green to Louisville was renamed the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Highway.[8]

On February 12, 2007, a bill passed the Kentucky Senate to rename I-65 in Jefferson County the "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway".[9] Signage was posted July 25, 2007.[10]

On July 15, 2007, Kentucky officially raised its speed limits on Interstate and state parkway highways to 70 mph (110 km/h). Until that date, Kentucky was the only state along I-65's path that had a speed limit of 65 mph (105 km/h).[11]

In 2008, Governor Steve Beshear ordered the entire route to be widened to a minimum of six lanes through the entire state. This project won an award under the "Under Budget—Medium" category in the Southeast Regional competition of the 2014 America's Transportation Awards.[12] The project was completed spring of 2019 with the final 10-mile (16 km) stretch between Sonora and Elizabethtown.

In July 2017, the KYTC opened a new interchange of I-65 at milemarker 30 to provide access to the Kentucky Transpark near Bowling Green. The $66.8-million project, which began in 2016, would improve traffic conditions along I-65 and U.S. Route 31W (US 31W) in northeastern Warren County. The first phase of the project include the new interchange, exit 30, plus a four-lane connector road going from the Interstate to US 68 just east of Bowling Green.[13] The second phase is building a two-lane connector road running from US 68 to US 31W between Bowling Green and Oakland, thus relieving congestion problems on both U.S. Routes. This was the first new exit on I-65 since 2002, when the interchange with KY 234 was built to connect downtown Bowling Green from the freeway.

Exit list

KentuckyTennessee line0.000.00
I-65 south – Nashville
Continuation into Tennessee
121 SR 109 (Vaughn Parkway) – Portland, Welcome CenterExit number based on Tennessee mileage
SimpsonFranklin1.9803.1872 US 31W (Main Street) – Franklin
5.9799.6226 KY 100 (Scottsville Road) – Scottsville, Franklin

I-165 north / KY 9007 south – Owensboro, Scottsville
Signed as exits 20A (KY 9007) and 20B (I-165); southern terminus of I-165; northern terminus of KY 9007; I-165 exit 1; KY 9007 exit 2
Bowling Green22.38836.03022 US 231 (Scottsville Road) – Scottsville, Bowling Green
25.73241.41226 KY 234 (Cemetery Road) – Bowling Green
Bowling Green28.06645.16828
KY 446 to US 31W – Bowling Green
Serves National Corvette Museum
KY 3145 to US 68 – Bowling Green
Serves Kentucky Transpark; exit opened July 6, 2017[15][16]
Oakland35.63157.34336 US 68 (Glasgow Road) / KY 80 – OaklandNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
Smiths Grove37.57860.47638
KY 101 (Main Street) to US 68 – Smiths Grove, Scottsville
Also serves Nolin River Reservoir
Barren43.13569.41943 Cumberland Parkway – Somerset, GlasgowCumberland Parkway exit 0
Park City47.37176.23648
KY 255 (Mammoth Cave Parkway) to US 31W – Park City, Brownsville
Serves Mammoth Cave National Park
Cave City52.42384.36753
KY 70 (Mammoth Cave Road) to KY 90 – Cave City, Glasgow
KY 218 (Flint Ridge Road) to KY 335 – Horse Cave
Munfordville64.200103.32065 US 31W (Main Street) – Munfordville
70.407113.30971 KY 728 (Bacon Creek Road) – BonnievilleFinal exit in the Central time zone
LaRueUpton75.896122.14376 KY 224 (Upton Talley Road) – UptonFirst exit in the Eastern time zone
KY 84 (Western Avenue) to US 31W – Sonora
KY 222 (Glendale Hodgenville Road) to US 31W – Glendale
Elizabethtown91.086146.58991 US 31W / KY 61 / Western Kentucky Parkway – Hodgenville, Paducah, ElizabethtownSouthbound exit to Dixie Avenue, Serves Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park; WK Parkway exit 137
Bluegrass Parkway east – Lexington, Bardstown
Bluegrass Parkway exits 0A-B westbound; trumpet interchange
94.154151.52694 US 62 (Mulberry Street) / KY 61 – Elizabethtown
102.533165.011102 KY 313 (Joe Prather Highway) – Radcliff, Vine Grove
BullittLebanon Junction104.698168.495105 KY 61 (Preston Highway) – Boston, Lebanon Junction
111.773179.881112 KY 245 (Clermont Road) – Bardstown, Clermont
KY 3538 (Ohm Drive) to KY 61 – Shepherdsville
Exit opened March 1, 2021[17]
KY 480 (Cedar Grove Road) to KY 61
116.639187.712117 KY 44 (4th Street) – Mt. Washington, Shepherdsville
121.722195.893121 KY 1526 (John Harper Highway)
I-265 east (Gene Snyder Freeway) / KY 841
I-265 exit 10; signed as exits 125A (east) & 125B (west) northbound
126.746203.978127 KY 1065 (Outer Loop) – Okolona, FairdaleSouthbound split exit (east) and (west)
Louisville128.328206.524128 KY 1747 (Fern Valley Road)
129.802208.896130 KY 61 (Preston Highway) / Grade Lane
130.710210.357131A I-264 (Watterson Expressway) – Louisville International AirportI-264 exit 12; signed as exits 131A (east) and 131B (west) southbound
130.792210.489131BKentucky Exposition Center
132.601213.401132 KY 1631 (Crittenden Drive) – Kentucky Exposition CenterNo access back to I-65 Northbound (must use exit 133 from Warnock Street)
US 60 Alt. (Eastern Parkway)
No access from I-65 Southbound to (Eastern Parkway, must use Arthur Street) or back to I-65 northbound (must use Warnock Street for I-65 North)
KY 61 south (Arthur Street)
South end of KY 61 overlap; no northbound exit to Preston Street
KY 61 north (Preston Street)
North end of KY 61 overlap; northbound exit and southbound entrance
134.145215.885134BWoodbine StreetNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
134.675216.738135St. Catherine Street west
136AChestnut Street, Broadway (US 150)Northbound exit and southbound entrance
135.649218.306136BBrook StreetNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
136CMuhammad Ali Boulevard, Jefferson Street – Downtown Louisville
I-64 / I-71 north – Lexington, St. Louis, Cincinnati
I-64 exit 5; I-71 exit 1
Ohio River137.318220.992Abraham Lincoln Bridge (northbound toll; E-ZPass or pay-by-plate)
John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge (southbound toll; E-ZPass or pay-by-plate)

I-65 north (Toll Bridge) – Indianapolis
Continuation into Indiana
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Auxiliary routes

  • I-165: A spur running from I-65 in Bowling Green to Owensboro. Formerly the William H. Natcher Parkway.
  • I-265: Forms three-quarters of a beltway around the Louisville metropolitan area. The signage runs from I-65 to I-71 on the northeast side of the metro area. It is cosigned with KY 841 for its entire length and is known as the Gene Snyder Freeway. Construction of the Lewis and Clark Bridge over the Ohio River to connect the Kentucky segment of I-265 with the Indiana segment was completed and opened to traffic on December 18, 2016.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Adderly, Kevin (January 27, 2016). "Table 1: Main Routes of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways as of December 31, 2015". Route Log and Finder List. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  2. ^ "The Ohio River Bridges". Ohio River Bridges Project. March 31, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Kyle (December 29, 2016). "Last-minute rush hits RiverLink offices hours before tolling begins". Louisville, KY: WDRB. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  4. ^ Kleber, John E.; Clark, Thomas D.; Harrison, Lowell H.; Klotter, James C., eds. (1992). "Rivers". The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0.
  5. ^ Kentucky Department of Highways (1973). Kentucky Official Highway and Parkway Map (PDF) (Map). c. 1:760,320. Frankfort: Kentucky Department of Highways. Kentucky Turnpike and Interstate 65 (Toll schedule) inset. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  6. ^ West, Gary P. (March 8, 2015). "Turnpike's glass house restaurants a memory". Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  7. ^ Cross, Al (1984-09-02). "Reconstruction of I-65 in Kentucky forces removal of two service areas". The Courier-Journal. Louisville.
  8. ^ "Interstate 65". Travel Mammoth Cave National Park: Guide and Map. MobileReference. 2010. ISBN 978-1-6050-1034-2.
  9. ^ Gerth, Joseph (February 13, 2007). "Senate OKs renaming I-65 for King". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, KY.
  10. ^ Shafer, Sheldon S. (July 25, 2007). "Mayor, Democrats back I-65 King plan". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, KY. Retrieved July 30, 2007.
  11. ^ "Governor Fletcher Signs Speed Limit Bill" (Press release). Commonwealth of Kentucky. March 21, 2007. Archived from the original on October 30, 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2007.
  12. ^ ”I-65 widening project wins regional transportation award”. Barren County Progress, September 4, 2014, page 14.
  13. ^ Sergent, Don (July 5, 2017). "New I-65 exit improves access to Transpark". Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  14. ^ Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (December 22, 2007). "HIS Expanded Milepoint Route Log Extract". Archived from the original on November 9, 2007.
  15. ^ (PDF) {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)[permanent dead link][full citation needed]
  16. ^ Doyle, Darren (July 6, 2017). "Grand Opening of New I-65 Exit 30 Held Today At Ky Transpark". Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  17. ^ Vogt, Dustin (March 1, 2021). "New I-65 interchange ramp in Bullitt County open for traffic". WAVE 3. Retrieved June 5, 2021.

External links

Interstate 65
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