Interstate 81 and 840 in Tennessee

By | October 18, 2022

Interstate 81 in Tennessee

Get started dandridge
End Bristol
Length 76 mi
Length 122 km
1 → Knoxville / Asheville

4 White Pine

8 Morristown

12 Morristown

15 Fish Hatchery Road

23 Bulls Gap

30 Lonesome Pine Trail

36 Baileytown

44 Yearoldstown

50 Fall Branch

56 Fordtown Road

57 → Kingsport / Johnson City

59 Colonial Heights

63 Airport

66 Memorial Boulevard

69 Blountville

74 Bristol


Interstate 81 or I -81 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of Tennessee. The highway runs through the far east of the state, from Dandridge on Interstate 40 to the Virginia border in Bristol. Interstate 81 is 122 kilometers long in Tennessee.

  • ElectronicsMatter: State facts of Tennessee, covering history, geography, demography, economics, politics, and administrative division of Tennessee.

Travel directions

The starting point of I-81.

About 30 miles east of the city of Knoxville, Interstate 40 branches off southeast and I-81 continues northeast. I-81 runs through a broad valley in the Appalachian Mountains, flanked by rivers that eventually form the Tennessee River. I-81 passes through rural area and has 2×2 lanes. The landscape is mainly undulating with many meadows, the hills are often a bit further from the highway. The highway is largely located around 400 meters above sea level, in the wider area are low mountains up to about 1000 meters.

I-81 crosses Interstate 26 between Kingsport and Johnson City. I-81 runs along the outskirts of Kingsport but doesn’t really go through built-up areas. At the border with Virginia one reaches Bristol, a small town located right on the state line. From here, Interstate 81 in Virginia continues toward Roanoke.


Before I-81 was built, US 11 was the through route. This was historically an important long-haul route for traffic through the interior of the southeastern United States.

With the creation of the Interstate Highway system in 1956, construction began directly on the Virginia border, but for the rest of the route only in the late 1960s. Construction of I-81 was a somewhat lower priority for Tennessee because there are no major cities on the route. Nevertheless, I-81 does have significance for long-distance traffic. Much of I-81 was opened in 1974 between Bulls Gap and Bristol, completing the highway.

  • Fun-wiki: Brief information of the state Tennessee, covering basic history and geography as well as top cities of Tennessee.

Opening history

Exit are sometimes also mileposts.

From Unpleasant Length Opening
Exit 75 VA state line 1 km 20-11-1961
exit 8 exit 12 6 km 00-06-1970
exit 12 Exit 23 18 km 00-12-1970
Exit 23 Exit 74 82 km 00-12-1974


I-81 in Greene County.

After the construction of I-81, no major changes were made to the highway. By 2000, the northernmost 2 miles at the Virginia border was widened to 2×3 lanes around its junction with US 11W. In 2014, a large shopping center was built at this connection.

Due to the intensive freight traffic on I-81, there is talk of widening more parts of the highway to 2×3 lanes, this is also an important theme in Virginia, but for both states other parts of the state have more priority than I- 81, which opens up few large places and mainly accommodates long-distance traffic.

Traffic intensities

42,000 vehicles per day travel from the I-40 fork at Dandridge, then dropping to about 25,000 vehicles per day until near the I-26 interchange. After that, 30,000 to 35,000 vehicles will continue to the Virginia border. I-81 is the only main route of an Interstate Highway in Tennessee that does not handle more than 50,000 vehicles a day anywhere, making it the state’s quietest main route.

Interstate 840 in Tennessee

Get started Dickson
End Lebanon
Length 77 mi
Length 126 km
1 → Memphis / Nashville7 SR-100 Fairview

14 Leiders Creek Road

28 Spring Hill

30 Franklin

31 → Birmingham / Nashville

34 Peytonsville-Trinity Road

37 Arno Road

42 Triune

47 Smyrna

50 Veterans Parkway

53 → Nashville / Chattanooga

55 Murfreesboro

57 Sulfur Springs Road

61 Jefferson Pike

65 Bill France Road

67 Couchville Pike

70 Gladeville

72 Central Pike

76 → Nashville / Knoxville

Interstate 840 or I -840 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of Tennessee. The freeway forms half a southern ring road around the city of Nashville and is currently 128 kilometers long.

Travel directions

I-840 at Franklin south of Nashville.

Interstate 840 begins at Dickson, 45 miles west of Nashville on Interstate 40, the highway from Memphis to Nashville. The highway runs in 2×2 lanes through a hilly area to the southeast, later to the east. I-840 forms a long-haul bypass for Nashville here, as the interstate is far from the built-up area. Franklin crosses Interstate 65, the highway from Nashville to Birmingham. A little further on, at Murfreesboro, one crosses Interstate 24, the highway from Nashville to Chattanooga. The highway then heads north and rejoins I-40 at Lebanon. The route via I-840 is approximately 30 kilometers longer than via I-40.


The freeway was constructed as a state route and was originally numbered State Route 840. Construction of the freeway began in 1991 and in August 1995 the first section between I-40 at Lebanon and Gladepike was opened for 10 kilometers. In November 1996, a 28-kilometer extension opened to I-24 at Murfreesboro. On November 30, 2000, 11 miles to US 31 at Triune opened and on October 18, 2001 an 11-mile extension to I-65 south of Nashville. On December 5, 2002, eight miles to the west between I-40 at Dickson and SR-100 opened. On November 2, 2012, the final section opened on the south side of Nashville. In August 2016, the Interstate 840 number was assigned to the route, after which the signage was adjusted until the end of 2016.

Opening history

From Unpleasant Length Date
gladepike I-40 Lebanon 10 km 00-08-1995
I-24 Murfreesboro gladepike 28 km 00-11-1996
Triune I-24 Murfreesboro 18 km 30-11-2000
I-65 Triune 18 km 18-10-2001
I-40 Dickson SR-100 13 km 05-12-2002
SR-100 SR-46 11 km 00-00-2005
SR-46 Leipers Creek Road 7 km 31-12-2011?
US 31 Columbia Pike SR-46 23 km 02-11-2012


The ring road on the north side of Nashville may also be built in the future. The ring road would then be 287 kilometers long, one of the longest ring roads in the world. However, this project is not concrete.

Traffic intensities

In 2013, a year after it opened, 8,000 vehicles drove daily near the western interchange with I-40 near Dickson. This increases to 13,000 vehicles southwest of Franklin and 26,000 to 30,000 vehicles just west of I-65. Between I-65 and I-24, 30,000 to 33,000 vehicles per day, and up to 51,000 vehicles between I-24 and US 41 at Murfreesboro. Thereafter, there will be 32,000 vehicles, dropping to 16,000 vehicles at the eastern interchange with I-40 near Lebanon.

Interstate 840 in Tennessee