I-270 around Columbus

I have little information concerning the history of the Columbus beltway. We all know it was part of the original national interstate plans. It's original northern extent was much shorter than what we have today (can you imagine Bethel-Morse Rd as the northern extent of this freeway?). Other than the dates of completion on each section, that is all I know.

These two maps shows the original plan and all the northen alternatives.

Maps of the interchange

This table represents all the proposals for I-270. The two left columns have the original plans (by present day exit location), the two right columns contain the northern alternatives

 Original I-270 Plan

 Alternative I-270 North Plans
 I-71 south I- 71 north  Plan A (Mostly built)  Plans B, C and D
 US 62/Oh 3 south(west)  Oh 3 north  Tuttle Rd  Hilliard Cemetary Rd C
 Georgesville Rd *  Stelzer Rd  US 33/Oh 161 west  US 33 north C
 US 40 (West Broad St)  US 62 (later I-670)  Sawmill Rd  Oh 315 (Olentangy River Rd) C
 I-70 west  Oh 317 (Hamilton Rd) *  Oh 315 *  I-71 north D
 Roberts Rd  OH 16 (East Broad St)  US 23  Oh 3 north D
 Hilliard Cemetary Rd  US 40 (East Main St)  I-71 north  Stelzer Rd D
 US 33 north(west)  I-70 east Oh 710 (Cleveland Ave)  US 23 (North High St) B
 Oh 315 (Olentangy River Rd)  US 33 east  Oh 3 north  I-71 north B
Oh 315 (Freeway exit)  Alum Creek Dr  Oh 161 east  Oh 3 north B
  US 23 (North High St) *  US 23 south  Morse Rd  
* = highway located on neighboring map
As for the northern alternatives, "A" in the west and "B" in the east became what is I-270 today. In the original plans, these following roads, that have interchanges today, weren't originally plan to do so:
Georgesville Rd.
Roberts Rd
Tuttle Rd
Sawmill Rd
Cleveland Ave (Oh 710)
On all the maps, most of the interchanges shown got decidedly downgraded when actually built. In some cases the interchanges were built as shown on the map, but those few and far between.

Visionary or Demon?
This map, from the Columbus Dispatch in 1961 show the two competing ideas for I-270 north at the beginning of the interstate era. The solid line being the intended route for I-270 and the dashed line being the proposed route of 270 by then Columbus Service Director Ernest Stork. Stork's reasoning for the northern extension (variation of alt A above) was that by the time that I-270 (north) would be completed the Columbus metropolis would have grown to Worthington and Westerville. Stork already had E-W arterial plans in the work for Northern Columbus and felt that a I-270 following Morse-Bethel would do more harm than good in getting those project completed. Those E-W arterials being:
The Morse-Bethel connector (and 4 laning that highway) [45 years later, the connector has yet to be built. Morse Rd was promptly made 4 lanes in the 60s, while Bethel was finally widened in the late 80s/early 90s]
Fishinger-North Broadway- Agler (McCutchen) Rd. North Broadway was not a major throughfare till the 1960s as Columbus wanted to make it part of it's middle loop. It was extended over the Olentangy to Kenny Rd (over the objections of land owners between Olentangy River and Kenny Rds, and the City of Upper Arlington) and have some other road from Gahanna meet North Broadway at Cleveland Ave (The article referenced extending McCutchen Rd, when in reality it was Agler Rd that was extended over Alum Creek to Westerville Rd). However, North Broadway was never widened east of Maize Rd and ended up being used for local traffic.
Roberts Rd-Lane Ave-17th Ave. Here's another proposal that never came to fruition. Roberts has yet to be extended over Marble Cliff Quarey. 17th Ave peters out in Mifflin twp. While Lane Ave has fared best, getting a rebuild from Olentangy River Rd to High St.
5th Ave. As the dividing line between "Campus" and the "Short North" it already was an arterial highway and no major changes were done to it.
The eastern extension, to the east of Gahanna was proposed due to concerns about proposed road being too close to Port Columbus. I guess those fears were unfounded as the original alignment, going between Gahanna and the Airport was chosen (though it ended up being the last section built and opened in 1975)
While there was a debate as to whether to place I-270 where traffic was then (1961) versus the future, someone had some consultants from New York City to look at putting I-270 through Overbrook Canyon and Whetstone Park. Thankfully that idea never got beyond the paper stage


Source -- Columbus outerbelt interstate highway 270; preliminary report

Arial Photos of I-270 (Starts at I-71 south and you can proceed clockwise)

I-270 Photos Page

Jeff Kitsko's Exit Guide for I-270

I-270/US 33 NW Columbus Study

I-270 North Outerbelt Study

Page created on November 19, 2002, Last updated on January 26, 2006

Questions and comments can be sent to Sandor Gulyas

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