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Interstate 70 shield
Interstate 70
Main route of the Interstate Highway System
Length: 2153.13 mi[1] (3,465.13 km)
Formed: 1956 (completed in 1992)
West end: I-15 near Cove Fort, UT
I-25 in Denver, CO
I-35 in Kansas City, MO
I-55 in St. Louis, MO
I-65 in Indianapolis, IN
I-75 in Dayton, OH
I-81 in Hagerstown, MD
East end: MD 122 in Baltimore, MD

Interstate 70 (I-70) is an Interstate Highway in the United States that runs from Interstate 15 near Cove Fort, Utah, to a Park and Ride near Baltimore, Maryland. It was the first Interstate Highway Project started in the United States. I-70 approximately traces the path of U.S. Route 40 (and also the old National Road) east of the Rocky Mountains. West of the Rockies, the route of I-70 was cobbled together from a variety of sources.

The construction of I-70 in Colorado and Utah is considered an engineering marvel where the route passes through the Eisenhower Tunnel, Glenwood Canyon, and the San Rafael Swell. The Eisenhower Tunnel is the highest point along the Interstate Highway system with an elevation of 11,158 ft (3,401 m).

The sections of the interstate in Missouri and Kansas have laid claim to be the first interstate in the United States.[2] The final piece of Interstate 70 was opened to traffic at Glenwood Canyon in 1992. Most people considered this to be the last piece of the Interstate Highway System as originally planned to be opened.


Route description

  mi[1] km
UT 232.15 373.83
CO 451.04 726.31
KS 424.15 683.01
MO 251.66 405.25
IL 155.94 234.90
IN 156.6 252.17
OH 225.6 363.29
WV 14.45 23.27
PA 167.92 270.40
MD 93.62 150.76
Total 2153.13 3465.13


Interstate 70 begins at an interchange with Interstate 15 near Cove Fort. Heading east, I-70 crosses between the Tushar and Pahvant ranges via Clear Creek Canyon and descends into the Sevier Valley where I-70 serves Richfield, the only town of more than a few hundred people along I-70's path in Utah. Upon leaving the valley near Salina I-70 crosses 7,923 ft (2,415 m) Salina Summit and then crosses a massive geologic formation called the San Rafael Swell.

Prior to I-70's construction the swell was relatively undiscovered and inaccessible via paved roads. Once this 108 mi (174 km) section was opened to traffic in 1970, it became the longest stretch of Interstate Highway with no services and the first highway in the U.S. built over a completely new route since the Alaska Highway.[3] It also became the longest piece of interstate highway to be opened at one time. [4] Although opened in 1970, this section was not formally complete until 1990 when a second steel arch bridge spanning Eagle Canyon was opened to traffic.

I-70 passes through Spotted Wolf Canyon inside the San Rafael Swell

Since I-70's construction the swell has been discovered for its desolate beauty. The swell has since been nominated for National Park and/or National Monument status on multiple occasions. If the swell is granted this status it arguably would be the first time a National Park owes its existence to an Interstate Highway. Most of the exits in this span are view areas, brake check areas, and Runaway truck ramps with few traditional freeway exits.

I-70 exits the swell near Green River. From Green River to the Colorado state line I-70 follows the southern edge of the Book Cliffs.


I-70 at the portal of the Eisenhower Tunnel. The traffic signal is controlled from a command center and used for incident management.

Entering from Utah, I-70 descends into the Grand Valley where it meets the Colorado River, which provides its path up the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. Here I-70 serves the Grand Junction metro area before traversing more mountainous terrain. It passes through the 15 mile (24 km) section of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon, which was the last section of I-70 to be completed. This stretch was completed in 1992 and was an engineering marvel due to the extremely difficult terrain and narrow space in the canyon, which requires corners that are sharper than normal Interstate standards. Construction was delayed for many years due to environmental concerns. The difficulties in building the road in the canyon were compounded by the fact that a railroad occupied the south bank and many temporary construction projects took place to keep U.S. Route 6 open, at the time the only east–west road in the area. Much of the highway is elevated above the Colorado River. The speed limit in this section is 50 mph (80 km/h) due to the limited sight distance and sharper corners. Great care was taken to not destroy the local ecosystem with the building of the road. All rest areas through this stretch use reclaimed water.

I-70 as it turns north at Copper Mountain, approximately 2.5 miles (4.0 km) from Vail Pass.

The Eisenhower Tunnel, the highest vehicular tunnel in the world and the longest tunnel built under the Interstate program, passes through the Continental Divide. Because of the Eisenhower Tunnel's existence, I-70 is one of few roads connecting ski resorts such as Copper Mountain, Beaver Creek and Vail with Denver and it is more likely to be open than alternative roads. After traversing the mountainous terrain, I-70 goes through Denver and intersects Interstate 25. Leaving Denver, I-70 traverses through wide plains through east central Colorado before exiting into Kansas.

A section of the highway is displayed in the video game Syphon Filter 2 as an escape route for the protagonist. I-70 between Denver and Glenwood Springs is the focus of Powder Chimp the first Google Earth Plugin application to combine traffic, weather and web cam feeds and part of a grassroots effort to avoid the imposition of tolls on that section of the Interstate.

Bicyclists are permitted to use the shoulder lane of I-70 in portions of Colorado; this is one of the few sections of Interstate Highway where non-motorized vehicles are permitted to use the road.

When leaving the Rocky Mountains, the Denver skyline can be seen on a clear day. This can fool truckers and other unsuspecting drivers because there is still over 10 miles (16 km) of steep grade road before reaching the city. A series of signs warn truckers of the steep grade.


Coming from Colorado, I-70 enters flat plains in Kansas. This portion of I-70 was the first segment to start being paved and to be completed in the Interstate Highway System. It is given the nickname "Main Street of Kansas" as the interstate extends from the western border to the eastern border covering 424 miles (682 km) and passing through most of the state's principal cities in the process.

I-70 crossing on the Lewis & Clark Viaduct over the Kansas River from Kansas to Missouri in Kansas City.

In Salina, I-70 intersects with I-135, the longest "spur" route in the Interstate system[5], forming the latter's northern terminus.

In Topeka, I-70 intersects I-470, twice. At the eastern intersection, the Kansas Turnpike merges, with I-70 becoming a toll road. This is one of only two sections of I-70 that are tolled. (The other is part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.) I-70 carries this designation from Topeka to Bonner Springs, the eastern terminus of the turnpike. There is also a third child route in Topeka, I-335, which runs from I-470 south to meet up with I-35 in the Flint Hills town of Emporia. Just past the Bonner Springs Toll Plaza I-70 crosses I-435 for the first time, which allows travelers to bypass the downtown traffic via I-435, which encircles the Kansas City metropolitan area. Further down the highway in Kansas City, Kansas, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) before the 18th Street Expressway, I-70 is intersected again by another child route. This route, I-635, runs from I-35 at its southern terminus up to I-29, just about 5 miles (8.0 km) across the Missouri river, at its northern terminus. From I-635 to just past the 7th Street (US 169) exit, I-70 runs adjacent Union Pacific's Armourdale Yard. Here I-670 (also designated "Alternate 70" on some signs) diverges, providing a more direct route that rejoins I-70 proper a few miles east in Missouri. The highway passes over the former stockyards and rail yard when it crosses the Kansas River on the Lewis & Clark Viaduct into downtown Kansas City, Missouri.


Interstate 70 in Saline County, Missouri

After crossing the Lewis & Clark Viaduct, I-70 enters Missouri. It encounters a loop of freeways, called the Alphabet Loop, which contains I-70 as well as I-35, I-670, U.S. 24, U.S. 40, U.S. 71, and U.S. 169. In the southern part of this loop, I-670 cuts directly through the downtown while I-70 bypasses the taller buildings a few blocks north near the Missouri River. Westbound I-670 is also designated Alternate I-70 making this the only permanent "alternate" interstate in the country. Most of the interstates in this loop are in their second mile, so all exits (no matter the which interstate carries the road) are numbered 2 and suffixed with every letter of the alphabet except I, O and Z.

The section of I-70 in Downtown Kansas City is approximately the southern city limits of "City of Kansas" when it was incorporated in 1853. The first two auto bridges in Missouri mark the city's original boundaries with the Broadway Bridge (Kansas City) (U.S. Route 169) being the west boundary while the Heart of America Bridge (Route 9) is the east boundary. Another intersection of note is the second traverse of I-435. This is primarily notable because it immediately precedes the Truman Sports Complex (home of both Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium) and also because the entrance ramps from I-435 northbound onto I-70 eastbound also serve as the exit ramps from I-70 into the Truman Sports Complex parking lots. This section of the Interstate is marked as the "George Brett Super Highway", named after the Kansas City Royals third baseman who played the entirety of his career (1973-1993) at "The K". The last interstate intersection in the immediate Kansas City metro area is with I-470 in Independence.

I-70 passing the Edward Jones Dome (upper left) in downtown St. Louis, photo taken from the Gateway Arch.

After passing Kansas City, I-70 traverses the length of Missouri, west to east. It passes through the largest city between Kansas City and St. Louis, Columbia, which is about halfway between the two major cities, and the home of the University of Missouri. The terrain is rolling with some hills and bluffs near rivers. I-70 also crosses the Missouri River twice (as did the original US 40)--at Rocheport, about 15 miles (24 km) west of Columbia, and at St. Charles, about 20 miles (32 km) northwest of St. Louis. Most of the highway on this stretch is four-lane. Various proposals have been made to widen it (at an estimated cost of $3.5 billion) including turning it into a toll road.[6] I-70 eventually gets into the St. Louis metro area and U.S. Route 40 splits to the south, along with U.S. Route 61, which does not have a concurrency with I-70. The intersecting road will be upgraded to Interstate standards because of the upgrade to Interstate 64.[7] After this interchange, I-70 intersects two child routes, I-270 and I-170. I-70 then heads into the city limits of St. Louis, designated "The Mark McGwire Highway" after the Cardinals former first baseman (1997-2001), who hit 70 home runs in 1998 to break the single season record set by Roger Maris in 1961, allowing the number 70 to take on greater significance in St. Louis. It continues south to intersect with I-64, U.S. 40, and I-55, which then become concurrent as they head east to cross the Mississippi River on the Poplar Street Bridge.

The 1985 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals was nicknamed the "I-70 Series" because St. Louis and Kansas City are the two endpoints of I-70 in Missouri and the highway passed both Busch Stadium and Royals Stadium.


After crossing the Poplar Street Bridge, I-64 splits off, while I-55 and I-70 stay concurrent. When they intersect I-270, I-55 stays on its own pavement using the mileposts from the Poplar Street Bridge, while I-70 heads east on I-270's pavement using I-270's mileposts. So when I-55/70 intersects I-270 from the southeast, the exit numbers would be 20 A/B, whereas if I-70 intersects I-55/270 from the east, it would be exits 15 A/B.

I-70 does not pass through any major cities in Illinois. It does run concurrent with Interstate 57 around Effingham. I-70 then proceeds east towards Indiana.


I-70 near its junction with I-65, east of downtown Indianapolis

I-70 enters Indiana just to the west of Terre Haute and then crosses the Wabash River before skirting the south side of that city. After passing through many miles of gently rolling terrain in rural west-central Indiana, the freeway approaches the major metropolitan area of Indianapolis.

The main entrance to Indianapolis International Airport was relocated to I-70's exit #68 on November 11, 2008. It is significant to note that the ramp leading eastbound I-70 motorists to the counter-clockwise (southbound) lanes of I-465 and the multiplexed eastbound I-74 is now located at exit (and mile marker) #69, which you encounter just after entering Marion County. This places it about 3.9 miles (6.3 km) distant from the destination freeway (which is still crossed just prior to mile marker 73), likely making this one of the longest ramps on the entire Interstate System.

Upon nearing the central business district of Indiana's capital city, the visage of Lucas Oil Stadium, with the city's skyline as its backdrop, now dominates the view to the north from the freeway. After passing just to the south of the world headquarters for Eli Lilly & Co., I-70 and Interstate 65, have a brief multiplex through the eastern side of downtown Indianapolis. The junction points of these two major routes are known locally as the south split and north split respectively.

It is also noteworthy that the other 2-digit Interstates serving Indianapolis do not reach the city's core. As a result, I-70 motorists must use the I-465 beltway in order to reach I-69 without leaving the Interstate System, while those similarly bound for I-74 access that route via its multiplex around the southern portion of the I-465 loop.

After passing through much of the near northeast side of Indianapolis, I-70 again encounters the I-465 beltway (which carries a multitude of unsigned U.S. and Indiana state routes). I-70 continues on nearly due east from this point, first traveling through suburban Indy, then transitioning into rural east central Indiana, where it passes just to the south of the city of New Castle. Upon reaching the Richmond area, U.S. 35 joins I-70 just before both routes leave the Hoosier State together and enter Ohio.


Interstate 70 enters Ohio just east of the interchange with U.S. 40 at Richmond, Indiana. Immediately to the east of this border, travelers notice a unique teal-blue arch that spans the width of the freeway, with a "Welcome to Ohio" greeting sign above the eastbound lanes. A sign thanking travelers for visiting Ohio is mounted on the other side of the arch for westbound travelers. Continuing eastbound, I-70 intersects Interstate 75 north of Dayton, followed by I-675 on the east side of Dayton. Springfield is the next city, site of Buck Creek State Park.

I-70 and I-71 intersection in Columbus, Ohio.

I-70 then encounters the largest city in Ohio, Columbus. Columbus is bounded by I-270, and is roughly centered around the intersection of I-70 and Interstate 71, which share the same asphalt through a notoriously congested 1.5-mile (2.4 km) stretch locally known as the "South Innerbelt" or, more commonly, "The Split." The Split will be reconstructed within the next few years. Interstate 670 connects Port Columbus International Airport with I-270, I-71, and I-70. East of Columbus, I-70 passes through Zanesville and on to Cambridge, where it intersects Interstate 77. Continuing on towards West Virginia, I-70 intersects Interstate 470 just east of St. Clairsville. I-470 is primarily used for through traffic, and to avoid The Festival of Lights traffic during the holidays. In March 1995, a hole (from a former coal mine) opened up on the eastbound side of I-70 in Guernsey County near Old Washington, causing traffic to be rerouted onto US 40 between Old Washington and Cambridge for several months.

West Virginia

Crossing the Ohio River (Fort Henry Bridge) at Wheeling

The portion of I-70 in West Virginia crosses the Ohio River at Wheeling and runs through the Wheeling Tunnel. I-70 has only one through lane in each direction at the tunnel. A major interchange was planned but never completed on the east side of the Wheeling Tunnel. Upon merging with I-470, I-70 goes uphill towards Dallas Pike, West Virginia, This part of the road is called "Two Mile Hill", which is known locally for the many accidents at the bottom of the hill. I-70 has brought major development in Ohio County, the only county the route passes through in West Virginia, in the past few years. On the north side of the highway a former strip mine is being developed into a retail area called the Highlands. This stretch of Interstate 70 is the shortest I-70 is in any state, traveling only 15 miles (24 km) from the Ohio River to the Pennsylvania border.


I-70 was initially envisioned to go through Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; its planned route was later incorporated into I-376, as well as parts of I-76, I-279 and I-79.

I-70 also overlaps I-79 near Washington, Pennsylvania for 3 miles (4.8 km).

The 38 miles (61 km) of I-70 between Washington, Pennsylvania and New Stanton, Pennsylvania is a sub-standard section of the highway. This section of I-70 used to be Pennsylvania Route 71. It is characterized by sharp curves, limited sight distance, narrow shoulders, and lack of merge lanes at interchanges. Traffic on clover leaf ramps must weave in the right through lane of traffic due to the lack of a third lane for entering and exiting traffic. Other on and off ramps effectively function as RIRO, making for a nervewracking entrance if traffic is approaching. The speed limit on this stretch is 55 mph (90 km/h)

From New Stanton to Breezewood, I-70 overlaps I-76 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This is one of only two tolled sections of I-70 (the other being in Kansas, where the portion of the Kansas Turnpike east of Topeka is signed I-70).

Drivers on I-70 near Breezewood, Pennsylvania have to leave the freeway and travel a few blocks on US 30 past several traffic lights before returning to the freeway.[8] This stretch of I-70 is one of the few gaps on the Interstate Highway System.


In Maryland, Interstate 70 runs horizontally from the Pennsylvania state line near Hancock east across the central portion of the state towards Baltimore, following the route of the National Road, now known as U.S. 40. It is the major east–west highway in the state, serving the cities of Hagerstown and Frederick and bypassing Ellicott City. East of Frederick, the route was originally designated Interstate 70N. The route serves Washington D.C. via Interstate 270, which was once designated Interstate 70S. Uniquely, Interstate 70 indirectly serves a branch of the Washington Metro at Shady Grove via Interstate 370, which only connects to Interstate 270.

I-70 was planned to end at Interstate 95 in Baltimore, but due to local opposition, it was only built to Maryland Route 122 (see History below). The pavement that was supposed to be part of the route to Baltimore is now a Park and ride in West Baltimore (City line at Exit 94).


Besides being the first Interstate signed into law, other oddities happened with I-70 as well:

Western terminus

As first proposed, the western terminus of I-70 was Denver, Colorado. Utah and Colorado pressured the federal government to extend the plans for I-70 farther west, arguing that a direct link between Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah was vital for an effective highway system. The proposal was to follow what is now U.S. Route 6 west and connect to I-15 at Spanish Fork, Utah. Federal planners (influenced by the military) agreed to extend the proposed route of I-70, but not to serve Salt Lake. The military wanted to better connect southern California with the North Eastern U.S. This led to I-70's constructed route through the San Rafael Swell and terminating at Cove Fort. Many motorists include I-70 as part of their cross-country drives between New York City and Los Angeles (which are accessible to I-70 via other interstates).[4]

Eastern terminus

As a result of freeway revolts in the Baltimore area, Interstate 70 was not completed east of Maryland Route 122 to its planned terminus on Interstate 95 within the city of Baltimore, and for all intents and purposes, ends at a four-way symmetrical stack interchange with Interstate 695, the Baltimore Beltway.


The highway gave its name to the "I-70 Killer," a serial killer who committed a string of murders within a few miles of it in several Midwestern states in the 1980s. No suspect has ever been apprehended despite the widespread publicity the murders have generated, including their being featured several times on the television show America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries.

John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, the duo responsible for the Beltway sniper attacks, were apprehended at a rest stop on I-70 near Myersville, Maryland, in 2002.

The 1985 World Series was a contest between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals, and won by the Royals. As these cities are primarily connected by Interstate 70, this World Series was often referred to as the "I-70 Series" in the media.

Major intersections

Auxiliary routes

I-70 has one of the closest distances between two distinct child interstates with the same child interstate number. I-470 near Topeka, Kansas and I-470 on the east side of Kansas City, Missouri are approximately 72 miles (116 km) apart. This record is surpassed by I-395 in Washington DC and I-395 in Baltimore which are unrelated, but less than 40 miles (64 km) apart.

A breakdown of I-70's child routes follows:


External links

Route of Interstate 70 overlaid on Google Maps

Main Interstate Highways (major interstates highlighted)
4 5 8 10 12 15 16 17 19 20 22 24 25 26 27 29 30
35 37 39 40 43 44 45 49 55 57 59 64 65 66 68 69
70 71 72 73 74 75 76 (W) 76 (E) 77 78 79 80 81 82
83 84 (W) 84 (E) 85 86 (W) 86 (E) 87 88 (W) 88 (E) 89 90
91 93 94 95 96 97 99 (238) H-1 H-2 H-3
Unsigned  A-1 A-2 A-3 A-4 PRI-1 PRI-2 PRI-3
Lists  Primary  Main - Intrastate - Suffixed - Future - Gaps
Auxiliary  Main - Future - Unsigned
Other  Standards - Business - Bypassed

Redirecting to Interstate 70


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