What was to become I-75 was originally conceived in the 1930's as a 50 mile "regional superhighway" connecting Cincinnati and Dayton. The new highway was to utilize the obsolete Miami-Erie canal route between the two cities and was to be modeled after the recently completed Pennsylvania Turnpike. The first segment was hastily constructed in 1941 to provide access to the Wright Aeronautical Plant, located about 12 miles north of downtown Cincinnati. The sprawling plant employed 20,000 by 1942, manufacturing engines for RAF fighters and American B-29's. All heavy bombing of Japan, including the incendiary bombing of Tokyo in 1945 and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of that year were carried out by B-29's outfitted with engines  manufactured at this plant.

Recent view of the GE plant. (Larry Stulz photo)

What was alternately called the "Wright Highway", "Lockland Highway", or "Wright-Lockland Highway" was a six lane highway that stretched about four miles between Hartwell Ave. and Glendale-Milford Rd.  It was built along the path of the old Miami-Erie canal, which fell into disuse by the late 1800's.  

[Summer 2001 Jake Mecklenborg]
This infamous interchange, which dates to the Wright-Lockland Highway's
original construction, will be closed permanently in 2010. 

The Lockland channel originally carried two lanes of northbound and southbound traffic but
was made southbound only in 1963 when separate northbound lanes opened a half mile east.  Thru The Valley alternatives #5 ("Parkway") and #6 ("Divided Interstate") call for two-way traffic to return to this stretch after reconstruction commences in 2010.   In either scenario local interchanges would be reduced or entirely eliminated from I-75's current southbound lanes and be shifted to I-75's current northbound lanes, which would be made two-way as well. 

The Wright Aeronautical Plant was sold to General Electric after the war and is still in operation, employing over 10,000 and generating significant expressway traffic. The only segment of the Wright-Lockland Highway that has not been completely rebuilt is the southbound mile through the Lockland split, which includes the Lockland (Exit 11 -- pictured above) and Galbraith Rd. (Exit 10) exits. An abandoned southbound exit to Anthony Wayne Ave. can still be seen a few hundred feet north of the Galbraith Rd. ramp. The high retaining walls to either side of the expressway in the vicinity of the Lockland exit date from this era, as do the green railings (pictured above) seen on the Galbraith Rd. and Lockland overpasses. Overpasses and railings of this vintage can be seen elsewhere in the city on the Winton Rd. bridge over Winton Woods Lake and the Race Rd. overpass over Westwood-Northern Boulevard.

The original Wright-Lockland Highway in the vicinity of the GE plant was rebuilt in the 1970's. The southernmost remaining mile of the Wright-Lockland Highway was reconfigured when the sprawling Cross County Highway interchange was constructed in the early 1990's. So only the segment through Lockland remains mostly unchanged.

I-75 southbound through Lockland -- original segment of the Wright Highway.
The GE plant is at top left and I-75 north is to the right of this photo. (Larry Stulz photo)

What was to become miles 8 and 9 of I-75 broke ground on December 4, 1947.  This two mile extension of the Wright-Lockland Highway ran south from Hartwell Ave. to Elmwood Place, and included the Elmwood Place and Paddock Rd. interchanges. This section was soon after improved in the 1950's with the addition of emergency shoulders.

The partial Elmwood Place interchange marks the southernmost point of construction in the 1940's. (Larry Stulz photo)

Unfortunately I have not found any photos of the old Wright-Lockland Highway or description of the road's signage, lighting, or general appearance. Presumably the signage was of the crude sort still seen in some areas of the Northeast. Few photos were taken in the area during the war, and in fact no photos of the Wright Aeronautical Plant were published until 1945.

1. 1940's
2. 1950's
3. 1960's
4. 1970's-1990's
5. Recent News and Future Plans

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