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Interstate 71

Interstate 71

Total length: 344 miles (553 km)
Southern terminus: Louisville, KY, at JCT I-64 & I-65
Northern terminus: Cleveland, OH, at JCT I-90

States traversed & length in each:

  • Kentucky — 97 miles (156 km)
  • Ohio — 247 miles (397 km)

Major cities along route:

  • Louisville, KY
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Columbus, OH
  • Mansfield, OH
  • Cleveland, OH

Junctions with non-related Interstates:

  • Interstate 64: Southern terminus in Louisville, KY
  • Interstate 65: Southern terminus in Louisville, KY
  • Interstate 75: Multiplex from KY MP 78 (Walton, KY) to OH MP 0.4 (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Interstate 275: Exit 185 in Erlanger, KY
  • Interstate 275: Exit 17 in Cincinnati, OH
  • Interstate 270: Exit 101 in Grove City, OH
  • Interstate 70: Multiplex from MP 106 to MP 108 in Columbus, OH
  • Interstate 270: Exit 119 in Columbus, OH
  • Eastern Interstate 76: Exit 209 in Seville, OH
  • Interstate 80: Exit 233 in Strongsville, OH
  • Interstate 480: Exit 238 in Cleveland, OH
  • Interstate 90: Northern terminus in Cleveland, OH

Related loops and spurs:

  • Interstate 471: 6 miles long; spur from I-71 in downtown Cincinnati to the I-275 loop in Newport, KY; unnumbered exit
  • Interstate 271: 39 miles long; spur to I-90 at Willoughby, OH, for through traffic to Erie, PA; I-71 Exit 220

Length I’ve traveled: Entire length

Time zones:
Eastern — Entire length

Counties traversed:
Kentucky — Jefferson, Oldham, Henry, Trimble, Carroll, Gallatin, Boone, Kenton

Ohio — Hamilton, Warren, Clinton, Greene, Fayette, Madison, Pickaway, Franklin, Delaware, Morrow, Richland, Ashland, Wayne, Medina, Cuyahoga

A quick hypertext drive: Largely a diagonal route, Interstate 71 serves to connect Louisville and the three largest cities in Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland). The interchange at the southern terminus is interesting; I-71 begins/ends at I-64, although direct access is available to/from I-65 as well.

The route in Kentucky is four lanes and quite hilly, with a few long and semi-steep climbs and descents. About 40 miles northeast of Louisville, a pair of signs memorialize a deadly 1988 bus accident that occurred on I-71. Kentucky Speedway, which hosts NASCAR Busch Series races, sits just yards off I-71 at Exit 57. I-71 joins with I-75 approximately 20 miles south of Cincinnati, and the two highways multiplex across the Ohio River into Cincinnati on a mostly eight-lane alignment.

I-71 affords amazing views of downtown Cincinnati just after breaking off of I-75; the freeway passes next to both Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals) and Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati Reds). Immediately after the sports facilities, I-71 rounds a 40-mph curve into a tunnel; this curve is notorious for overturned-truck accidents. From there through the rest of Cincinnati, I-71 spends much of its time climbing away from the river.

The Kings Island amusement park sits next to I-71 approximately 25 miles northeast of Cincinnati. A bit farther to the east, I-71 crosses a long and very high bridge over the Little Miami River; this is an amazingly scenic area. I-71 quickly flattens out east of the Little Miami River; the next 65 miles into metropolitan Columbus traverse flat to slightly rolling farming areas.

I-71 briefly joins I-70 in downtown Columbus before breaking off and heading due north; it passes Columbus Crew Stadium a few miles north of downtown. Toward Mansfield, I-71 re-enters more hilly terrain for perhaps 40-50 miles, up to near the I-76 interchange. That interchange is interesting because it connects two non-tolled highways via a “double trumpet,” a style of interchange most frequently used on toll highways. The remainder of the route into downtown Cleveland is fairly flat; a short double-decked section with Ohio State Route 176 in Cleveland is an impressive bit of engineering.

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