Reconnecting Communities: Untangling Nashville’s Freeway Mess

Nashville sits at the intersections of I-65, I-40, and I-24 making it one of the biggest freight corridors in the country. It also ranks as one of the of the biggest major freight bottleneck areas with greater than 65,000 annual truck hours of delay per mile.

Existing Conditions

Much of this has to do with the makeup of the freeway network through the city. The three major freeways converge and diverge in various configurations. There are 16 system to system interchanges within shouting distance of Downtown Nashville with 6 of them being interchanges where two of the major freeways merge to run concurrently.

These interchanges lead to a large increase in merging, weaving, sudden grade changes are sharp radii, leading to gridlock during rush hour and even during non-peak hours. As seen below, much of the urban freeway network suffers from delay during the PM rush hour.


Proposed Solution

Untangling this web of urban freeway mess will go a long way in the continuing transformation Nashville is seeing. While it will add a couple of miles to I-65, I-40, and I-24, it will increase safety, eliminate several system to system interchanges – which are the source of gridlock, and eliminate multiple freeway segments closest to Downtown.

I-65 | Existing Mileage (I-440 to TN 155): 10.5 Miles | Proposed Distance: 12.2 Miles

The new I-65 alignment will follow I-440 to the West then North of Downtown to the existing I-40/I-24 merge. The previous stretch from I-440 to Downtown can be converted to an Urban Boulevard serving as a new gateway and focal point coming into Downtown.


This will also facilitate the removal of the most offensive stretches of freeways damaging Nashville’s urban fabric allowing to stich together Downtown and Midtown.


I-40 | Existing Mileage (I-440 to I-440): 7 Miles | Proposed Distance: 8.4 Miles


The new I-40 alignment would simply follow the extents of I-440. This would bypass and eliminate three of the most congested interchanges that exist today while also creating another Urban Boulevard and removal possibility heading into Downtown.

I-24 | Existing Mileage (TN 155 to TN 155): 10.5 Miles | Proposed Distance: 15 Miles

The proposed I-24 alignment follows TN 155 / Bailey Pkwy East of Nashville. Out of the big three, I-24 would see the largest increase in distance needed to get through the city but offers big benefits by freeing the future improved Stadium area from being freeway bound and letting it become part of the East Nashville neighborhood.


From reclamation of urban space by the removal of freeways and interchanges, to enhancing a safe and efficient freight network, the benefits are endless for all parties involved.

Opinions and insights are my own and are not representative of my employer or any organization. Any ideas displayed on this site are purely that – just ideas to help improve the future of the built environment and begin discussions.

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