Interstate 64

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the interstate era had started full throttle in Indiana. The Indiana Toll Road had already been in place for a few years when the construction started on the freeways that would criss-cross the state. Some of those freeways would have been planned as toll roads. Those toll roads would never come to be. Indiana Official Maps of the early 1960s showed the built and future routes of I-65, I-69, I-70, I-74, I-80, I-90, I-94, and I-465. It wasn’t until 1965 that the last two digit interstate appeared on official maps. That was Interstate 64.

In its completed state, I-64 connects St. Louis, Missouri, with the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. In keeping with the “defense highway” designation of the interstate system, I-64 connects one of the largest Navy complexes in the world with the national limited access highway system. The Hampton Roads area, particularly Norfolk, is home to many military facilities. The biggest of which is the Naval Station Norfolk.

In the original plans for this highway across Indiana and Illinois, it was to follow the US 50 corridor across Illinois and into Indiana. A part of this plan was actually built. It now functions at the US 50 bypass of Vincennes. Residents across Illinois in the planned route area were not happy with the decision. This lead to I-64 to continue to follow the US 460 corridor which it does more or less from Norfolk, Virginia.

This routing had the advantage of lower costs and mileage. It was the completing plans for I-64 that caused it to be the last of the “major” routes that was finally confirmed as being added to Indiana. Due to the routing, after leaving New Albany, the entire interstate is a rural highway. It does not directly connect to any other major metropolitan area in Indiana. It was also because of this routing, it led to the construction of the only completed “spur route” interstate (i.e. an odd numbered interstate route) built in the state: I-164.

Admittedly, there were two spur routes originally planned in the Indiana Interstate system. The second would be in the Indianapolis area, connecting the I-65/I-70 north split to I-69 at Castleton. This would be I-169. It was scrapped relatively quickly in the planning stage.

The I-164 spur route no longer exists, having been made a part of, and renumbered to, the new Interstate 69 out of Evansville.

Construction on I-64 started from New Albany working its way west. By 1967, the interstate connected New Albany to Louisville via the Sherman Minton Bridge. The bridge had been built as part of US 150, completed in August 1962. The new interstate was built to connect to the already extent bridge.

The next section of construction was started between SR 165 and US 41 north of Evansville. This was shown on the 1967 official map. 1968 shows construction underway from the Wabash River east to SR 57, including the previous mentioned section. It also shows the completion from SR 64 east to Louisville. By 1969, a connection between SR 65 and US 41 was completed. A year later, one could use the new highway to travel from Illinois SR 1 to US 41.

Construction would continue, with 1971 showing the construction underway from US 41 to SR 61, and from SR 337 east to the open interstate at SR 64. The section from US 41 to SR 57 was also opened for travel. One year later, the new road would started being built from both ends, showing the section from SR 162 to SR 66 being still in a pending status.

The entire route was listed under construction in 1974, with the ability to travel from Illinois SR 1 to Indiana SR 61, and from SR 135 to Louisville. By 1976, the ends of the completed sections were at SR 37 (west end of east section) and US 231 (east end of west section). The entire route would be complete by 1977. This, along with the completion of the I-65/I-70 section in downtown Indianapolis, would mark the end of the two digit interstate construction in Indiana. That is, until the I-69 extension was finally approved.

Interstate 164 started showing on the Indiana Official Maps in 1987. It is shown as complete in 1990.



One thought on “Interstate 64

  1. Good portions of US 50 in Illinois were rebuilt thinking I-64 would come. Then it didn’t. It gives some 2-lane sections of that road a feel of “these were supposed to be eastbound lanes, weren’t they.”

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