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Retrospective: Interstate 275, Cincinnati's Outer-Loop (Ky.)

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Interstate 275 in Kentucky

The above URL has 20 archived photographs from the Kenton County Public Library.

Also see -

Caroll C. Cropper Bridge (Interstate 275)

Combs-Hehl Bridge (Interstate 275)

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Planning for Interstate 275 in Kentucky dated back to the 1950s, when northern Kentucky officials envisioned an outer-belt for the congested Cincinnati metropolitan area. [3] Cincinnati officials had been planning for an outer-belt as well to link U.S. Route 25 in Clermont County on the east to U.S. Route 50 in Cleves to the west. [5] It was not until November 1961 that Cincinnati's plans and Boone County's plans were merged into what was proposed then as the Greater Cincinnati Metropolitan Area By-Pass. On August 10, 1962, it was announced that President John F. Kennedy had given his support to the project, and in August, a Kentucky Post article detailed out the route's alignment. [4]

Construction on the first segment began in April 1968 with the letting of the first project of the western Interstate 275 Ohio River span, later named after longtime Boone County Judge Carroll E. Cropper. The first contract for Interstate 275 sans the western Ohio River bridge was let on January 16, 1970. [4] The four-level stack interchange was the only one of its kind in the Commonwealth, opening in early 1976 at a cost of $15 million. [3]

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^ Taken not long after the interchange opened. The above asphalt pavement is Interstate 71/75 before reconstruction of the pavement occurred in conjunction with the Dixie Highway interchange reconfiguration and widening.

The Licking River bridge, between the Taylor Mill Road and the AA Highway (Kentucky Route 9) interchanges, opened on February 3, 1976 at a cost of $1.4 million for the piers and $6 million for the structure and deck. [4] An $8 million contract for 1.5 miles of grading and drainage work was let on May 1971 for interstate highway construction on both sides of the river crossing. Construction on the bridge itself began on January 1, 1973, with the piers extending 126- to 130-feet above the ground. By June 1974, the piers were completed. Flooding, bitter winter storms and Congressional funding delays had offed the project by more than a year.

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^ Licking River crossing is in the background.

The last segment of highway in Kenton County to open was on November 10, 1977 from the Dixie Highway to Taylor Mill Road in Kenton County, but the last segment in the county to be dedicated was the western section of Interstate 275, which occurred on December 6, 1977. [3] The gala opening included three governors, Julian Carroll of Kentucky, James Rhodes of Ohio and Otis Bowen of Indiana. A large snowstorm closed the interstate, however, and the event was held at the Northern Kentucky Airport. But because of the inclement weather, only Carroll and Rhodes were able to attend; the Indiana governor was snowed in at the Indianapolis airport. Someone at the event suggested traveling out to the bridge to cut the ribbon, but because the roads were impassible, Governor Rhodes suggested that the ceremonial ribbon to be cut at the airport.

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^ The span was completed but not opened to traffic for several years due to delays in construction and planning by Indiana officials.

The remaining link of Interstate 275 east of Interstate 75 in Cabell County was completed on December 19, 1979, when the bridge over the Ohio River at Coney Island was dedicated. It was named the Combs-Hehl Bridge after former governor Bert Combs and Campbell County Judge-Executive Lambert Hehl. [3]

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^ Combs-Hehl Bridge

The cost of Interstate 275 west of Interstate 75 to Indiana was $200 million. [3] In total, the interstate was 26-miles long and contained nine interchanges.

There was much controversy over the interstate, as it cut through swaths of farmland and forested hillsides, much of it still free from suburban development. The highway was expected to ease heavy congestion through downtown Cincinnati on Interstate 75 and across the Brent Spence Bridge, which was handling an estimated 125,000 vehicles per day. [3]

Reconstruction:

In November 1994, a $25 million six-mile highway reconstruction project was undertaken by W.L. Harper Company through Campbell and Kenton Counties. [1] Twenty-year-old concrete pavement was replaced with a thicker layer of continuously-reinforced concrete and drainage along the project was improved from the Dixie Highway in Crestview Hills to Kentucky Route 9 in Wilder.

In July 1995, newly poured concrete on a 4,000-foot-long, 24-foot-wide experimental-test section was replaced from the Kentucky Route 9 interchange to just east of Kentucky Route 16 in Taylor Mill. [2] The contractor had begun pouring the concrete on June 12 and placing the metal joints after, however, the joints shifted. On traditional concrete pavement projects, concrete is poured over a steel wire frame that forms the joints in the pavement, and the frame allows the weight of cars and trucks to transfer smoothly from one slab of concrete to another. The cost was undertaken by the contractor. The concrete-paving project was completed in October 1996. [1]

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^ Crew members install a sign along the westbound Interstate 275 ramp that direct travelers to northbound Interstate 71 and 75.

Enjoy this retrospective into Interstate 275 in Kentucky. More of these will be coming in the near future!

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I love Cincinnati but hate the I-275 freeway. I often travel to and thru the metro area on Interstate 75 but find the beltway requires too much travel to make it a practical bypass. That forces me to use I-75 all the way through town.

I wish there had been more thought into designing the route around the city. The applies to I-675 in Dayton. If you're heading to Springfield its a great route. Otherwise it doesn't alleviate traffic congestion on I-75.

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