The 1970's saw reconstruction and modification of several original parts of the expressway. The I-74 (Exit 4) interchange (and the rest of I-74) opened in 1974, where the old Colerain Ave. interchange was located. The I-275 interchange in Kentucky (mile 185) opened soon after, and is the only four-level interchange in the Cincinnati area. The stretch between the General Electric Plant and Glendale-Milford Rd. (miles 12-14) was rebuilt with improved access to the plant and a complicated feeder road system for local interchanges.
The overpass in this photo was built as part of the 1970's reconstruction, and mainly serves
the parking lot at bottom right. Notice that cars headed to I-75 southbound must first head
north on the feeder road at right, cross the overpass, and the loop back around south.
(Larry Stulz photo)
The 1970's also saw the designation of I-75 through Northern Kentucky as I-71/75, to coincide with the opening of the neighboring expressway. Fort Washington Way was designated as I-71, meaning that the new expressway used the Fort Washington Way/I-75 interchange built in 1963 for its north interchange. Miles and interchanges were numbered along the shared I-71/75 stretch according to I-75's original numbering. This stretch is always referred to as "I-75" by locals, and many are probably unaware that it carries I-71 as well.
Work began in 1990 on the reconstruction of the Covington "Death Hill", which was the most dangerous section of expressway in the Cincinnati area. Spectacular accidents plagued northbound lanes and southbound traffic was slowed by trucks. An interchange with Euclid Ave. and Jefferson Ave. in southern Covington was eliminated.
Looking north through the cut, with Covington at top. Because of the tremendous volume of earth
moved during the project, no trace of the former S-curve route through the cut can be seen.
(Larry Stulz photo)
The rebuilt section descends a 5% grade, with a single sweeping turn in place of the previous S-turn and an additional southbound climbing lane. Due in part to a labor strike, the project was not completed until 1994, but the extreme hassle and expense adequately explained why the cut was not originally built this way. It also explains why I-75 was originally planned to cross the Ohio River on a bridge parallel to the Southern Railroad Bridge in Ludlow. In that scenario the descent to the bridge would have been much better behaved, with fewer buildings demolished in Ludlow than were cleared in Covington.
View of I-71/75, just south of the hill.
[March 2005 Jake Mecklenborg]
View of the downtown skyline from the Kyle's Lane interchange in Kentucky.
[March 2005 Jake Mecklenborg]
The full 2,000 mile route of I-75 between Ontario and Miami, FL was completed in 1986. Stretches between downtown and the I-74 interchange were resurfaced. I-71/75 in Kentucky was widened to eight, and even ten lanes in some sections. The elaborate Florence Mall (Exit 183) interchange opened in the late 80's.
The surly Ludlow Viaduct (1914) was dismantled in 1990 and replaced with a new generic overpass. This was not the only area landmark to be demolished early in the decade -- the Camp Washington Workhouse, located about a mile south of the viaduct, was demolished as well. The fortress-like Workhouse, built in the 1860's, was easily the most frightening building in the city and still housed prisoners in archaic conditions until the new downtown jail opened in the 1980's. Also removed in the 1990's were the flamboyant neon Western-Southern Life Insurance sign and the the silo painted like a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer can.
A recent view of the new Ludlow Viaduct
[Summer 2000 Jake Mecklenborg]
An undated photo of the Camp Washington Workhouse, with I-75 at top.
The Cross County Highway interchange (Exit 10) opened in 1991, serving the newly completed eastern half of the highway. In 1994, the western half of the interchange opened along with the short Cross County Highway segment up the hill to Galbraith Rd. in Finneytown. This stretch was part of the original Wright-Lockland Highway, and the reconstruction removed all traces of its original appearance.
The new Cross County Highway interchange -- despite the miles of ramps
involved in the interchange, there is no ramp from south I-75 to either Cross County
east or west, meaning driver must exit at Galbraith Rd. and then find one of the local
Cross County entrance ramps.
[Larry Stulz photo]
Another major project in the 1990's was the the Ft. Wright (mile 189) curve reconstruction. This curve was the tightest along the entire 2,000 mile length of I-75.
The Union Center Boulevard interchange at mile 19
in 1998. This interchange was built by private developers who bought
of acres of farm land to either side of the expressway. In the few
years since its opening, dozens of large warehouses and manufacturing
have been built in the area. They have been accompanied by
the usual array fast food restaurants, gas stations, and motels.
The overpass itself has a strange "UC" logo repeated several times
it, and is often confused for "University of Cincinnati" when in fact
stands for "Union Center".
5. Recent News and Future Plans