I-65/I-264 Interchange Planning Study
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) launched a planning study* in fall 2019 to identify improvements to reduce congestion and improve safety at the I-65/I-264 (Watterson Expressway) interchange in Jefferson County. The interchange has the highest number of crashes in the Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA) region. *In the 2020-2026 Enacted Highway Plan, only this Planning phase is funded. Additional funding to advance the project further will have to be secured in future Highway Plans.
The project team has identified short-term and long-term improvement strategies to address severe congestion, unreliable travel times and safety concerns for the heavily traveled area. Peak traffic in the corridor creates large queues that extend into mainline I-65 and I-264, impeding traffic.
The I-65/I-264 interchange facilitates movement throughout the Louisville Metro area including access to Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, UPS Worldport, Kentucky Air National Guard, Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center and Kentucky Kingdom.
Goals of the project are to increase safety for all users, manage and reduce roadway congestion, ensure timely and efficient movement of freight, and reduce and/or mitigate negative environmental impacts.
The final report is expected in summer 2021. The project team's report will include an inventory of existing conditions, presentation of alternatives, public involvement notebook, and final recommended improvement strategies.
Long-term Improvement Strategies
A: Changes in access from Preston Highway and I-65 to I-264 eastbound
Collected data and public feedback showed that access to I-264 eastbound from the Preston Highway, I-65 northbound, and I-65 southbound ramps is problematic during peak hours and heavy traffic flow. These three ramps must merge into two lanes in a short distance, resulting in queuing onto the I-65 northbound collector-distributor (C-D) road and mainline interstate. Modifications to I-264 eastbound access from these ramps, as well as changes to the C-D road for I-264 eastbound were evaluated and narrowed down to three potential improvement strategies to address these issues.
A-1: Remove Preston Highway On-Ramp + Reconfigure I-65 Southbound On-Ramp
A-2: Reconfigure Preston Highway On-Ramp
A-3: Reconfigure I-65 Southbound On-Ramp
B: Changes to the I-264 westbound to I-65 southbound loop ramp
Collected data and public feedback showed that due to the tight radius of the I-264 westbound to I-65 southbound ramp, slow vehicle traffic occurs on a regular basis with heavy congestion. This improvement strategy would include improving the radius of the loop ramp from I-264 westbound to I-65 southbound and moving the traffic using this ramp from Exit 12 (I-65 / KY 61) to Exit 11 (Crittenden Dr.). The widened loop ramp would become an added lane of traffic to I-65 southbound just north of the bridge over I-264. By changing the width and shape of the loop ramp and separating this exit from the Preston Highway and I-65 northbound exit, sight distances will be improved. This would also improve the weave between Poplar Level Road and I-65, reducing driver confusion and improving traffic flow. Additionally, the I-65 southbound to I-264 eastbound ramp will use the bridge from the I-264 westbound to I-65 southbound loop ramp to improve the radius and sight distance for motorists making that movement.
C: Changes to I-65 exits
Collected data and public feedback showed that the orientation of the two exits for I-65 southbound to the fairgrounds and I-264 cause driver confusion. This improvement strategy would include reconfiguring the I-65 southbound exits to I-264 westbound and I-264 eastbound. This will be done by separating the I-264 westbound exit from Exit 131 B and joining with the I-264 eastbound exit just north of its existing location. This would result in two exits: 131 B to the Fair/Expo Center; 131 A to I-264 westbound and I-264 eastbound. This will allow for more time and distance to improve driver decision making for ramp movements.
Short-term Improvement Strategies
1: Installing pavement tattoos
2: Improving guide signage
3: Enhancing striping at decision points
4: Installing high visibility striping
5: Upgrading current lighting
6: Applying high friction surface treatment
7: Upgrading guardrails