You can cuss or you can evolve when facing our confusing streets and byways.
Let’s start with an admittedly imperfect overview. Think of Nashville as having 5 loops around the city and 10 spokes that shoot out in most directions.
5 Sorta Loops of Nashville
Loop #1: Interstates 24/40/65
In the old days, this loop was simply labeled I-265 because it was pretty much a ring around downtown. Then someone decided it would be good to segment it. On the east side of downtown, it’s I-24; on the south to southwest side, it’s I-40; to the north side, it’s I-65. Don’t blame me.
Loop #2: I-440
Okay, it’s really a half-loop on the south side of town but it will keep you out of the worst area of gridlock. It starts at I-40 on one side of town and sags to reconnect on the other. Along the way, you’ll find exits to I-65 South and I-24 East.
Loop #3: Briley Parkway
It kinda encircles the city but changes names four times en route and shifts into two-lane mode in one segment through older neighborhoods to the south. At I-40 West, it becomes Robertson Road for a few blocks before turning into White Bridge Road (at Charlotte Pike), then it shifts to Woodmont Blvd. (at Harding Road), shoots across Green Hills and turns into Thompson Lane (near 100 Oaks Mall) until it becomes Briley Parkway again (at I-24 East). Mercifully it remains Briley (named for a former mayor) for its northern trek around Nashville.
Loop #4: Old Hickory Boulevard
Old Hickory Blvd. is our loopiest loop because it forms a circle around town but that circle is a little fragmented. For example, near Nolensville Road, it suddenly decides to skip down a half-mile or so before continuing. If you don’t make the necessary turns, it becomes Bell Road before finding itself again a few miles later. If someone gives you the address 4151 Old Hickory Blvd., make sure you get the zip code or community name or you could end up 20 miles from where you want to be.
Loop #5: I-840
If you really want to avoid Nashville, take this outer half-loop to skirt the south side of town.
The spokes of a wheel
No, this is not an octopus. These “spokes” will take you from the metro area to almost any part of town. Originally hey were pikes connecting satellite cities (hence their names) but, in the central city area, most have aliases. For example, as you approach downtown from the south, Franklin Pike becomes 8th Avenue.
Beware: Harding Road is different than Harding Place and Harding Place morphs into Battery Lane for 1.7 miles in the Green Hills/Forest Hills area before–poof–it turns back into Harding Place.
Gallatin Road goes north toward, yes, Gallatin. But in East Nashville, it’s Main Street and traveling west of the river, it is James Robertson Parkway as it makes an arc across the north side of downtown. Then it merges to become Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
North 1st Street merges with Dickerson Road just north of Jefferson Street. It’s also called Highway 41 and 31W.
Bless it, Charlotte Avenue keeps its name from downtown to Bellevue.