Highway System History

Detailed here are the events that shaped the Columbus region’s highway system.

**Last Updated: 6/14/2020


Saturday, January 11, 1941
Ohio State Highway Director Hal G. Sours proposes legislation authorizing the construction of high-speed freeways near points of entrance to larger cities. Sours says, “A freeway system, working hardship on no one, would at the same time assure a smooth, steady movement of traffic and curtail the possibility of crossroad collisions.”

The Sandusky Street bridge over the Scioto River is completed. It is considered the origin of what became the Columbus freeway system.

April 29, 1948
Former governor Frank Lausche advocates for a 1,200-mile freeway system in the state, saying the system would “bring widespread benefits to agriculture and industry.”

The federal government drafts a national plan for a 40,000-mile highway system.


April 10, 1951
Columbus voters approve a bond issue to fund planning and right of way purchasing of the Innerbelt freeway system.

Wednesday, May 16, 1951
The proposed route for the Columbus freeway system is released for public review. It is to be 22-miles in length and cost $85,350,000 to build, funded by the bond issue approval in April, as well as state and federal funds.

Saturday, March 15, 1952
Plans for the new Columbus expressway system are completed, with a new projected cost of $92.8 million.

October 30, 1959
The first piece of the new freeway system, the west leg of the Innerbelt, is dedicated by Mayor Sensenbrenner.


June, 1960
The I-71 section between Park Road and Strimple Avenue is completed and opened to traffic at a cost of $2,949,951.

July, 1960
I-71 between Stimmel Road and Harrisburg is completed and opened to traffic at a cost of $9,306,857.

September, 1960
I-71 between Strimple Avenue to Maynard Avenue is completed and opened to traffic.

Saturday, October 12, 1963
A compromise between officials Ohio State University officials and the State Highway Department is reached regarding the proposed route of Rt. 315 after years of dispute.

1963 map of the proposed route of 315.


Rt. 104 on the South Side is completed between I-71 and Lockbourne Road.

Monday, November 14, 1977
Former Columbus Mayor Maynard Sensenbrenner writes an opinion piece supporting the construction of the controversial I-670 freeway that will connect Downtown to northeastern Franklin County.