Interstate 71 or I -71 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of Ohio. The highway runs diagonally across the state from Cincinnati in the southwest, through Columbus in the center, to Cleveland in the northeast, connecting Ohio’s three largest cities. The highway is 399 kilometers long.
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the double-deck Brent Spence Bridge (background) over the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
I-71, along with Interstate 75, enters the state from Kentucky via a double-deck bridge. Immediately after the state line, there is an interchange where Interstate 75 continues straight north to the larger cities of Dayton, Toledo, and Detroit. I-71 exits east to pass a number of stadiums directly along downtown Cincinnati, as well as paralleling the Ohio River. The I-71 has 2×4 lanes here and is below ground level. Several tall buildings are located directly along the highway, which makes the route a spectacular ride. One enters through a tunnel, and then comes to the interchange with Interstate 471, which leads to the suburbs inKentucky leads. After that, the road has 5 lanes to the north and 4 to the south. You pass through the somewhat older districts of the city, which are still fairly densely built-up. The road has 2×4 lanes ahead and rises slowly from the Ohio Valley to the higher suburbs.
In the older suburb of Norwood, SR-562 crosses the Norwood Lateral Expressway. One then winds through the many suburbs, most of which are quite old, as Cincinnati was the first major Midwestern city to begin growing in the early 1900s. At Montgomery, one crosses SR-126, the Ronald Reagan Cross County Highway, a important east-west connection through the northern suburbs. After that, 2×4 lanes are still available. Via a modified cloverleaf you cross the Interstate 275, the Cincinnati ring road. Outside the ring, the suburbs are gradually becoming thinner, the last suburb is Lebanon, 45 kilometers from the center. The I-71 will then only have 2×2 lanes.
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One passes between Cincinnati and Columbus through the typical Ohio Midwestern landscape, meadows with occasional forests, intersected by small rivers. Ohio is certainly not as flat as the western Midwestern states, such as Iowa and Kansas. US 42 parallels north of I-71, US 62 parallels south of the road. There are no places of interest between Cincinnati and Columbus. At Wilmington one crosses US 68, the main road from Maysville in Kentucky to Springfield, a somewhat larger town to the north. The exits are quite far apart, often 10 kilometers, because the population density here is quite low. At the height of the hamlet of Octa, which consists of a large shopping center, one crosses the US 35, which has been expanded into a highway,
However, this junction is not direct, one has to take the exit at the outlet center to get to the US 35, the two highways cross each other without interchange possibilities. I-71 is mostly straight, with few turns. Polder blindness can pose a danger here, because the 130 kilometers between the two cities are quite monotonous. At Harrisburg one then crosses US 62, which ran parallel to I-71. One then reaches the first suburb of Columbus, namely Grove City.
A cloverleaf crosses Interstate 270, Columbus ‘ ring road. After that, 2×3 lanes will be available. You pass through an ugly industrial zone with sand extractions. The highway here is called the South Freeway. A star interchange crosses Interstate 70, the east-west axis from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh. The I-71 is then part of the center ring. I-71 is then briefly double-numbered with I-70, passing first south, and later east of downtown. The highway is located below ground level and forms the separation between the center and the old residential areas to the south. The double numbering has 2×3 lanes.
On the east side of downtown, I-71 turns north while I-70 continues straight toward Wheeling and Pittsburgh. Also east of downtown, I-71 is below ground level, and there are parallel lanes. Via a strange junction one then crosses Interstate 670, the east-west connection through the city. You then pass through the northern districts, and here too the road has 2×3 lanes. The neighborhoods here are still densely built, and built in a fine-mesh grid pattern. In the north of the city one crosses Interstate 270 again, the ring road. You pass through a few suburbs and then leave the agglomeration.
The junction I-71/ I-271 at Medina.
The area northeast of Columbus is quite identical to the southwest of Columbus, a monotonous landscape with many meadows, but not as tight and monotonous as in other states in the Midwest. There are 2×2 lanes. You pass Mansfield, a somewhat larger town on the route with 50,000 inhabitants. Here you cross the US 30, which has been partly extended to a highway, through Mansfield. This road connects Canton to Lima in the west of the state. A little further, at Ashland, one crosses US 250, which leads from Norwalk to Wooster, two regional towns in the area. A major interchange follows at Westfield Center, with Interstate 76 leading to the large city of Akron, which is only slightly to the east, and on to Youngstown and Pittsburgh., and finally Philadelphia. The area then becomes somewhat more wooded, and Interstate 271 branches off at Medina, which forms Cleveland ‘s eastern bypass.
I-71 in Cleveland.
The first suburb of the great Cleveland is Brunswick, located entirely in the woods. The highway already has 2×3 lanes. After this one crosses Interstate 80, the Ohio Turnpike, which comes from Chicago and leads directly to New York, which is still many hundreds of kilometers to the east. One then passes through the more expensive suburbs of Cleveland. At Cleveland Airport one crosses Interstate 480, an east-west connection through the southern suburbs. The highway then has 2×4 lanes. One then enters the area of the somewhat older suburbs, which are often more densely built-up. A little south of the center ofCleveland then ends the highway at Interstate 90, which runs from Chicago to Boston. This four-layer stack interchange also crosses Interstate 490, a short highway to the east of the city.
I-71 in Cincinnati.
The highway was planned in the 1950s as State Route 1, a toll road similar to the Ohio Turnpike, which explains that exit density outside major cities is lower than the average in the Midwestern United States. When the Interstate Highway system was rolled out from 1956, the road became a toll-free freewayconstructed. The sections between Cincinnati and Cleveland were constructed in a very short time. By about 1961, the highway had already opened from Columbus to Medina near Cleveland, and in October 1964 the highway opened from I-275 at Cincinnati to Harrisburg near Columbus. This allowed I-71 to be used between Cincinnati and Cleveland. From 1966, the OH-1 signposts were replaced by the I-71 signposts. Around 1973, a series of distance signs were put in place with distances in both miles and kilometers in anticipation of United States metrication.
The highway was planned as the Northeast Expressway in the 1940s, but no section opened until it was designated an Interstate Highway. In 1961, the sunken section through Downtown Cincinnati opened to traffic, then part of US 50. This is also known as the Fort Washington Way Trench.
The Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio River in Cincinnati opened to traffic in November 1963, but is actually part of I-75. The first section of I-71 to open closer to Cincinnati was a stretch from I-275 to the Warren County border in December 1969. The Lytle Tunnel in Cincinnati opened to traffic in 1970, as well as a stretch north of the centre. In 1974, the highway was extended to Dana Avenue, further northeast of downtown Cincinnati. Between 1972 and 1974, the remainder of I-71 within the I-275 Beltway was opened.
I-71 was constructed in a short time through the Columbus area. About 1961 a long stretch opened from Harrisburg to the northwest side of Downtown Columbus, and a little further north opened a long stretch from Weber Road in the north of Columbus to Medina, near Cleveland. At that time, the through connection around downtown went through the west and north sides, over what is now OH-315 and I-670. In about 1962, an approximately four-mile section opened from the northeast side of downtown to Weber Road, leaving a short missing link on the north side of downtown, which is now I-670.
By about 1964, the route along the north side of downtown Columbus was already through-going, the highway made a sharp turn at what is now the northern portion of the interchange between OH-315 and I-670. This made it possible to drive uninterrupted on I-71 through the Columbus metropolitan area. Shortly afterwards, however, presumably in 1965, the eastern and southern parts of the ring road around the center were completed, however until at least 1977 I-71 ran along the west and north sides of the center, instead of via the south and east sides as nowadays.
The predecessor to I-71 in Cleveland was US 42, which formed the city’s southwest approach road. In the Cleveland area, the southern portion was first concrete, between the fork with I-271 at Medina and the junction with the Ohio Turnpike, which was constructed in the first half of the 1960s and opened to OH in 1964 or 1965. -82 at Strongsville in 17 miles. Construction through Cleveland went well, after I-90, I-71 was the second longer freeway in Cleveland to be built and opened mostly to traffic in 1966 or 1967, between Strongsville and US 42 (25th Street) in Cleveland, a route of 24 kilometers. This also included the winding route between the airport and Cleveland. Circa 1968, the missing section opened up to the Innerbelt Bridgenear downtown Cleveland and the highway was completed.
At the time, it was planned that I-71 would continue to downtown Cleveland over the Innerbelt Bridge, but this later became part of I-90. The route from I-71 to the Innerbelt Bridge was the through connection for traffic for a long time, I-90 only opened about 1978-1979 until the stack interchange with I-71 for traffic.
|Exit 94 Harrisburg||Exit 106||19 km||circa 1960|
|Exit 112 Columbus||Exit 218 Medina (OH-18)||171 km||circa 1961|
|Exit 1A||Exit 1C Cincinnati (US 50)||2 km||circa 1961|
|Exit 109A||Exit 112 Columbus||5 km||circa 1961|
|Exit 108 Columbus||Exit 109A||1 km||circa 1962|
|Kentucky state line||Exit 1A||1 km||circa 1963|
|Exit 17||Exit 94 Harrisburg||124 km||circa 1964|
|Exit 106||Exit 108 Columbus||3 km||circa 1965|
|Exit 218 Medina||Exit 231 Strongsville||21 km||circa 1965|
|Exit 12 Kenwood||Exit 17||8 km||circa 1967|
|Exit 231 Strongsville||Exit 245 Cleveland (US 42)||23 km||circa 1967|
|Exit 245 Cleveland (US 42)||Exit 247||3 km||circa 1968|
|Exit 9 Cincinnati||Exit 12 Kenwood||5 km||circa 1971|
|Exit 1C Cincinnati (US 50)||Exit 9 Cincinnati||13 km||circa 1974|
Most of I-71 has 2×3 lanes or more, with only 2×2 lanes between Cincinnati and Columbus.
Cincinnati – Columbus
In the second half of the 1990s, I-71 between I-275 and Kings Mills was widened to 2×3 to 2×4 lanes. Around 2001, a small section between Kings Mills and South Lebanon, just outside Cincinnati, was widened to 2×3 lanes. In 2005, a seemingly random section of I-71 in Fayette County was widened to 2×3 lanes from east of Bowersville to Jeffersonville. Between 2015 and 2017, a 6-kilometer section at Grove City, a southern suburb of Columbus, was widened to 2×3 lanes.
Between 2010 and 2016, the 1965 Jeremiah Morrow Bridge east of Lebanon was replaced. It is Ohio’s tallest bridge, 73 meters above the Little Miami River. The bridge has been replaced in two phases, first building a new bridge next to it, and then demolishing the old bridge and replacing it with a second span, prepared for 2×3 lanes. The project was completed on November 18, 2016.
Columbus – Cleveland
Since the early 1990s, most of I-71 between Columbus and Cleveland has been widened to 2×3 lanes. On November 25, 2014, the final 2×3 lane section opened between Columbus and Cleveland. Between Cincinnati and Columbus, most of the highway has 2×3 lanes.
|Exit 0 Kentucky state line||Exit 7 OH-562 Norwood||2×4||12 km|
|Exit 7 OH-562 Norwood||Exit 17 I-275||2×3||16 km|
|Exit 17 I-275||Exit 24 Mason||2×4||12 km|
|Exit 24 Mason||Exit 28 Lebanon||2×3||6 km|
|Exit 28 Lebanon||Exit 58 Bowersville||2×2||48 km|
|Exit 58 Bowersville||Exit 69 Jeffersonville||2×3||19 km|
|Exit 69 Jeffersonville||Exit 100 Grove City||2×2||50 km|
|Exit 100 Grove City||Exit 107 I-70 Columbus||2×3||12 km|
|Exit 107 I-70 Columbus||Exit 109 I-670 Columbus||2×2||3 km|
|Exit 109 I-670 Columbus||Exit 119 I-270||2×3||16 km|
|Exit 119 I-270||Exit 121 Polaris||2×4||3 km|
|Exit 121 Polaris||Exit 238 I-480 Cleveland||2×3||188 km|
|Exit 238 I-480 Cleveland||Exit 244 Cleveland||2×4||10 km|
|Exit 244 Cleveland||Exit 247 I-90 Cleveland||2×3||5 km|
The section through Cincinnati is fairly busy, but not extreme, with 113,000 vehicles passing downtown, and 166,000 vehicles in the northern boroughs. Quite a lot of vehicles drive up to the I-275, but due to the available number of lanes, this usually does not lead to major delays. In the countryside between Cincinnati and Columbus, there are about 37,000 vehicles per day. The road in Columbus is not very busy, the double numbering with the I-70 counts 133,000 vehicles per day. 160,000 vehicles drive past east of the center. After the I-270 ring road, this drops to below a hundred thousand vehicles. There is hardly any congestion in Columbus either.
Further north, the rural area is not extremely busy with 40,000 vehicles per day. In Cleveland, the road for a commuter route is not very busy, with 117,000 vehicles per day. In Cleveland itself, this even drops to 92,000 vehicles. Large-scale congestion does not occur here either, although minor delays are possible.