Ohio Road Network

By | October 13, 2022

Ohio’s Interstate Highway Network.

Ohio has an extensive and well-developed road network. There is an extensive network of freeways and 2×2 divided highways. The underlying road network is formed by a dense network of state highways.

Road management

The state highway authority is the Ohio Department of Transportation, abbreviated ODOT. ODOT has its origins in the Ohio Department of Highways, which was founded in 1905. In 1972 this was transformed into the current Ohio Department of Transportation. Interestingly, of the many bridges over the Ohio River on the southern border, only two are managed by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

  • Bittranslators: State overview of Ohio, including geography, economy, population and history as well as introduction to major cities of Ohio.

Interstate Highways

I-77 at Akron.

A large number of Interstate Highways traverse Ohio. Interstate 70 forms an east-west route through the center of the state, through Columbus. Interstate 71 forms a diagonal route connecting the state’s three largest cities, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. Most of I-71 has 2×3 lanes. Interstate 74 runs just a few miles across the state, ending in Cincinnati. Interstate 75 forms the north-south route through the west of the state, from Cincinnati through Dayton to Toledo. The Interstate 76 runs through the northeast of the state, from south of Cleveland through Akron and past Youngstown, where it is part of the Ohio Turnpike. Interstate 77 is the primary north-south route through the east of the state, terminating in Cleveland. Interstate 80 and Interstate 90 form the Ohio Turnpike through Toledo to Cleveland, where the route splits, I-80 runs south of Cleveland while I-90 cuts through Cleveland.

In addition, there are numerous auxiliary routes. Interstate 270 forms Columbus’ beltway, while Interstate 670 forms an east-west route through the city. Interstate 271 forms Cleveland’s bypass, and Interstate 480 and Interstate 490 form east-west routes through the Cleveland metro area. Interstate 275 forms the Cincinnati Beltway, which also runs through Kentucky and Indiana. Interstate 277 passes through the city of Akron and Interstate 280 is the eastern approach road from Toledo, while Interstate 475 forms the western ring road of Toledo. Interstate 675 forms the bypass of Dayton and Interstate 680 passes through Youngstown.

  • Deluxesurveillance: Nickname of Ohio as The Buckeye State. Also covers geography, history, economy, politics and administration of the state.

US Highways

An equal number of US Highways traverse the state of Ohio. Some major corridors have been constructed as a 2×2 divided highway or partly freeway, such as US 24 southwest of Toledo, US 30 as an east-west route through the north of the state, US 23 as a north-south route through the center of the state and US 33 northwest of Columbus. US 35 is a major freeway/divided highway from Dayton to the West Virginia border. US 50 is a 2×2 divided highway in the southeast of the state.

Numerous other US Highways are predominantly two-lane highways, particularly due to the dense network of Interstate Highways. The main lack of an Interstate Highway is a north-south route through the middle of the state, which is filled by US 23, and an east-west route through the south of the state, which is filled by US 50.

State Routes

An extensive network of state routes form the secondary road network. The state routes are predominately under state management, except in cities, where they are under municipal management. Ohio was one of the first states to introduce road numbering, back in 1912. In 1927 the road network was significantly renumbered due to the introduction of the US Highways. The numbering runs from 1 to 999, although quite a few routes are skipped. Despite this, Ohio has a very large network of state routes. State Route 7 is the longest state route in the state with a length of 541 kilometers.

Some state routes are a freeway;

  • State Route 2: Port Clinton – Cleveland
  • State Route 4: in Dayton and Springfield
  • State Route 5: around Warren
  • State Route 8: Akron – Cleveland
  • State Route 11: East Liverpool – Ashtabula
  • State Route 21: in Massillon
  • State Route 44: in Painesville
  • State Route 59: in Akron
  • State Route 82: around Warren
  • State Route 104: in Columbus
  • State Route 126: through Cincinnati
  • State Route 129: to Hamilton
  • State Route 161: Columbus – Alexandria
  • State Route 176: in Cleveland
  • State Route 193: in Youngstown
  • State Route 237: in Cleveland
  • State Route 315: in Columbus
  • State Route 562: in Cincinnati
  • State Route 711: in Youngstown
  • State Route 823: past Portsmouth

Toll roads

The only toll road in the state is the Ohio Turnpike, a toll road that runs east-west throughout the state. I-76, I-80 and I-90 use it at some point. The Ohio Turnpike links a series of toll roads from the East Coast to Chicago. The turnpike is administered by the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.


Year Length of Interstate Highways
1960 628 km
1965 1,536 km
1970 2,082 km
1975 2,382 km
1980 2,467 km
1985 2,484 km
1990 2,511 km

Ohio was one of the first states to introduce road numbering, with the creation of 444 so-called ‘inter-county highways’ in 1912. However, these were probably not signposted until the early 1920s. A first renumbering was carried out in 1923, followed by a second renumbering in 1927 in connection with the introduction of the US Highways. Some state routes today still bear the number of the original inter-county highways from 1912.

Ohio was an early industrialized state with several large cities. One of the first highways in the United States was the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway, the first section of which was opened in 1935. This was one of the first highways outside the New York City area. However, the large-scale construction of highways started after the Second World War. Aside from some short city highways built in the 1940s, highway construction began primarily with the construction of the Ohio Turnpike. In the early 1950s, plans were made for two long-haul toll roads, the Ohio Turnpike in the north of the state, which had a mainly through character, and a toll road (SR-1) from Cincinnati via Columbus to Cleveland, which was later built as Interstate 71. Before the creation of the Interstate Highway system, Ohio had only a few short stretches of highway in addition to the Ohio Turnpike. Immediately after the creation of the Interstate Highways, the construction of new freeways progressed very quickly, by 1970 a large part of the highways in Ohio had already been built, and by 1980 most of the missing links had been completed. By 1970, 83% of the final Interstate Highway network had been opened.

In Cleveland in particular, a much larger highway network was planned than was ultimately realized, but the sharp decline in population and the migration of inhabitants and jobs to the suburbs made these plans superfluous. Today Cleveland has an adequate road network. A fairly extensive highway network has also been constructed in other major Ohio cities with through Interstate Highways, ring roads and other short connections. Cities such as Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus are less prone to congestion than many European cities of this size.

Ohio’s population grew rapidly through the 1960s, with only modest growth since then. It took 10 years to grow 1 million inhabitants between 1960 and 1970, but then 40 years to grow another 1 million inhabitants until 2010. Population growth is unequally focused on the metropolitan areas, the countryside is shrinking in many places, while with the suburbs of the large cities in particular are still growing. The city of Columbus in particular is still growing rapidly.

After most of the Interstate Highways were completed in the early 1970s, the state of Ohio completed highway construction earlier than many other states. The focus then shifted to the large-scale widening of the US Highways to 2×2 lanes, often over a new route with quasi highway characteristics. A hybrid form was often used, completely grade separated bypasses around the pitches and sections of 2×2 between the pitches, with all major intersections being grade separated but secondary roads connecting at one level and often irregularly, allowing traffic to get along well and barely encountering traffic lights. The speed of construction slowed down in the second half of the 1980s, some remaining sections were not opened until after 2000.

Ohio’s infrastructure fell into disrepair, mainly due to its age, Ohio had already completed a larger portion of its freeway network by the 1960s than many other states. After 2005, a large number of reconstruction projects have been carried out, both in the major cities and widening of I-70, I-71, I-75 and I-80/90 in particular between the major cities. This has significantly expanded Ohio’s road network in a relatively short period of time. Many bridges have been replaced, especially the replacement of the bridges and the complete reconstruction of I-75 through downtown Dayton. Some major bridges have also been replaced in Cleveland. In 2017, the condition of bridges in the United States did not improve as quickly as in Ohio.


I-75 at Dayton.

Although Ohio is a densely populated state with many large cities, congestion is relatively light. In the table below, the urban areas (statistical metropolitan areas) are compared with the position of the travel time index. A lower position means less congestion. Dayton ranks 70th out of the 71 largest cities in the United States by TTI. The other three major cities also score significantly lower on the TTI in relation to the population. Cincinnati is the 28th largest conurbation in the United States but only has the 52nd highest TTI.

Agglomeration Position population (MSA) Position TTI
Cincinnati 28 52
Cleveland 31 65
Columbus 32 50
Dayton 72 70

Ohio Road Network