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Interstate 22

 

Routing

Interstate 22 is the designation given for the new U.S. 78 / Corridor X freeway (High Priority Corridor 10) between Memphis, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama. The route will begin at either Interstates 55/69 at Hernando, Mississippi or future Interstate 269 at Byhalia, Mississippi. Interstate 22 will end at Interstate 65 in north Birmingham. Corridor X is currently open as a freeway from the Mississippi state line to Coalburg Road (Exit 93) in Birmingham. Most of the route in Mississippi is already constructed, with the exception of the connection to Interstates 55 & 69 via future Interstate 269.

The first official Interstate 22 signs were installed in Marion and Walker Counties, Alabama by April 2013.

High Priority Corridor

Proposed Interstate 22 is part of High Priority Corridor 10: ADHS Corridor X from Memphis to Birmingham. Its designation is written into law. The "Corridor X" designation is a result of its placement within the alphabetical listing of Appalachian Regional Planning Commission highway corridors. Corridor X is the 24th corridor in a listing from A to Z (notwithstanding some derivative routes such as A-1 and O-1).

Future Interstate 22 Corridor sign

Future Interstate 22 signs such as this one were placed in Mississippi along the U.S. 78 route in 2004. Similar signs were placed in Jasper, Alabama, in April 2005.6 Photo taken by Jeremy Hamm, 01/01/05.

According to Bill Minor, Mississippi DOT Northern District transportation commissioner, signs would go up as soon as possible labeling U.S. 78 as future Interstate 22 ... and to that end, Future Interstate 22 markers were placed along Mississippi's U.S. 78 in November 2004. On April 18, 2005, signs marking the new route were erected in Jasper, Alabama. Completion of the route was expected in 2012, with the major section from Graysville to the Mississippi State Line open by December 2006.5

History - Numbering

Interstate 22 was officially written into law by H.R. 2673, Section 111(2)(B) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004. On 1/23/2004, it became Public Law No: 108-199. Interstate 22, along with Interstates 66, 69, 73, 74, and 99, is part of a growing pantheon of Interstate routes whose designation was written into law. So once all of Corridor X is constructed, it will become Interstate 22. Some background on this follows.

In the article, "Wicker: Interstate status for 78 near: Congressman hopes U.S. 78 will become I-22 soon" (03/04/02) from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal of Tupelo, Interstate 22 became publicized as a potential number for the first time by a politician.

The Interstate 22 designation was to have been written into law as part of the federal Fiscal Year 2003 Transportation Appropriations Bill, but the Senate did not ratify a measure included in the bill to do this in February 2003. According to the Birmingham News article, "Corridor X transition to Interstate 22 stalled" by Ryan Mahoney (03/07/03), the goal was to install "Future Interstate 22" signs along U.S. 78/Corridor X prior to the completion of the route to attract businesses to locate along the route. This process only delayed the inevitable.

Proposed federal legislation designating Corridor X as Interstate 22 followed. U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville stated that a U.S. House committee approved language in a bill that designated the corridor as Interstate 22. The designation encourages the prospects for industrial recruiting along the freeway and opens the door to potential new highway funds as well. On July 24, 2003, Aderholt inserted language in the House Transportation and Treasury Appropriation bill for fiscal 2004 that applied the Interstate 22 designation. "The interstate occurs when the road is connected on either end to an existing interstate." Additionally it was stated that this bill language allowed for portions that were already completed to Interstate standards to receive official signs proclaiming that they are apart of Future Interstate 22.1 The Interstate 22 designation was also included in the Senate version of the appropriation bill.2

On September 9, 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Transportation-Treasury Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2004, paving the way for the Interstate 22 designation along U.S. 78. Congressman Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo stated, "We actually already have gotten beyond the bigger hurdle, the committee vote," with regards to getting Interstate 22 official. The vote continued to the Senate, where Mississippi Republican senators Thad Cochran and Trent Lott had already supported the measure.3 In November 2003, a House-Senate conference committee approved the Interstate 22 designation for U.S. 78. The 2004 appropriations bill for transportation contained language indicating that once the Corridor X freeway extends to Interstate 65, U.S. 78 can be designated Interstate 22. This ruling cleared the way for the installation of "Future Interstate 22" signs along the corridor.4

Construction Progress

Alabama began construction of Corridor X / Interstate 22 with initial construction appropriations in 1983; under this schedule, completion of the route would occur nearly 30 years later. Since 2001 future Interstate 22 travels from the Mississippi/Tennessee state line near Memphis east southeastward to Alabama 129 near Winfield (Exit 30). Additionally the Jasper bypass, Future Interstate 22 between Exits 52 and 65 was also in use. Construction on the 6.5-mile segment between Carbon Hill and Eldridge began in 2001. On November 22, 2005, the Carbon Hill segment opened between Exit 34 (Alabama 233) and Exit 52. 13 miles of freeway opened between Walker County 81 (Exit 78) and Cherry Avenue (Exit 91) from near Dora to Forestdale by June 9, 2007. This section of highway was opened to local traffic only with a truck restriction to prevent commercial vehicles from using neighborhood streets to connect with the freeway.8 An additional 13 miles of new freeway was slated to open on November 14, 2007 (a ribbon cutting ceremony took place on November 22, 2005) between Jasper (Industrial Parkway [Exit 65]) and Exit 91, bringing future Interstate 22 to within five miles of completion.9

Future Interstate 22 at I-65

Most of the base pavement for the final 2.5 miles of Future Interstate 22 between Coalburg Road and Interstate 65 is in place. This view looks from an adjacent subdivision at the future interchange with Interstate 65. Photo taken October 20, 2012.

The final stretch of Future Interstate 22 in Alabama will link the new freeway to the Interstate system. This connection entails five miles of freeway and a $145-million interchange with Interstate 65. Associated work includes a $73-million widening of Interstate 65 between 41st Avenue North and 16th Street North near the future junction. That work began in 2007 and was followed by additional widening of Interstate 65 from 41st Avenue North to Walker Chapel Road starting in 2009. Three-lane collector/distributor roadways will facilitate the movements along a four-mile stretch of Interstate 65. Completion of the Interstate 22 and 65 interchange was estimated at 2010.9, two years earlier than a previously suggested Fall 2012 completion date, but one year after officials initially thought.7

2.5 miles of freeway, between Cherry Avenue (Exit 91) and Coalburg Road (Exit 93) opened to local traffic on December 9, 2009. A $168.6-million contact was let on May 21, 2010 with work commencing July 2010 on the final 2.5 miles of Future I-22 in Alabama. Construction continues through October 15, 2014 on the I-22/65 interchange project.10 The interchange under construction between Interstates 22 and 65 will include a connection to adjacent U.S. 31.6 Further east, a feasibility study was conducted to extend Corridor X to Interstates 20 & 59 east of downtown Birmingham.8

Future Interstate 22 at I-65

Looking south from the 47th Avenue North overpass at the future stack interchange between Interstate 65 and Interstate 22 near Fultondale. Photo taken October 20, 2012.

Meanwhile along the Mississippi stretch of Future Interstate 22, much of the route was completed in the mid-1990s as a freeway. Certain portions of the freeway were not up to Interstate standards. These included stretches of shoulderless freeway especially near Fulton and west of Tupelo and the curbed median through New Albany. It was thought that approximately $30 million and three years of roadwork including edge draining, fencing, and other work was needed to bring the freeway to Interstate standards. This work was not a part of the original construction; at that time, planners did not feel the U.S. 78 freeway would eventually be considered for inclusion in the Interstate highway system.2

Shoulders were added to the sections between New Albany and Tupelo and from Fulton to the state line by summer 2010. A $30-million project was awarded in September 2010 for a three-year reconstruction of Future Interstate 22 between Coldwater Road and the West Holly Springs exit.11 A project to upgrade the New Albany interchange was awarded on November 8, 2011 with an expected completion on November 22, 2013.12 Work in Marshall County, which includes upgrades to the median, was expected to be completed in November 2012. Rubblization and repaving through Desoto and Marshall Counties continues to June 2013.13

Future Interstate 22 at I-65

The U.S. 78 freeway through New Albany (Exits 63 through 61) and the Tallahatchie River bridge was substandard in nature with a narrow curbed median and no barrier to separate traffic. Photo taken June 1, 2010.

The western connection of Interstate 22 to the existing Interstate System near Memphis is also being planned. The route may connect to Interstates 55 and 69 in Mississippi or Tennessee, perhaps via proposed Interstate 269. The ultimate plans, funding, and construction of the Interstate 22 connection into Memphis may take seven to eight years to come to fruition. Future Interstate 22 may connect to the existing Memphis Interstate network via U.S. 78, U.S. 72, Tennessee 385, or Mississippi 304; planning studies are currently underway to determine how Interstate 22 might enter and serve the metropolitan area.2 The latter two routes are part of the proposed Interstate 269 Memphis Bypass, with initial construction already underway.

Parallel U.S. Routes

Interstate 22 will parallel U.S. 78 for its entire duration. It is thought that U.S. 78 will return to its original alignment, parts of which are retained as U.S. 78 Alternate, in Alabama upon completion of I-22.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Future Interstates 55 / 69 - Southhaven, Mississippi
Two views of the Interstate 55 and 69 interchange construction at Exit 283. Mississippi's Interstate 69 opened to traffic on October 3, 2006. The new freeway ends at a half-cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 55 and awaits the completion of new Interstate 269 from the east. Although the Interstate 22 Tennessee portion remains somewhat uncertain, the Interstate 269 freeway from U.S. 78 at Olive Branch to Interstate 55 at Southhaven is planned. This route is not planned as Interstate 22 at the present time, but very well may carry the designation if Tennessee officials cannot drum up enough support for the freeway in Memphis. Photo taken by Zach (07/18/03).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 65 - Birmingham, Alabama
Perspective from Future Interstate 22 east
The future travel lanes of Interstate 22 end abruptly on a bluff above Interstate 65. Eventually these will dive below the I-65 mainline to an end at U.S. 31. A flyover otherwise will join the northbound collector/distributor roadway of Interstate 65 ahead of the Fultondale off-ramp (Exit 266). Photo taken 10/20/12.
Perspective from Interstate 65 south
Pier supports and some girders are placed for the eventual flyover ramps connecting Interstates 22 and Interstate 65. The tallest flyover, from I-65 north to I-22 west, will tower 85 feet high when the $168.6-million project to construct the interchange is complete in October 2014.14 Photo taken 10/20/12.
The Interstate 22 mainline will pass below Interstate 65 to connect with adjacent U.S. 31. A separate contract focuses on construction of 3,000 feet of roadway linking I-22 and U.S. 31. Completion of this element of the project is expected in 2014 as well.14 Photo taken 10/20/12.
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 65 south
Interstate 20/59 5 miles at Birmingham, AL
Interstate 459 15 miles at Hoover, AL
Interstate 85 94 miles at Montgomery, AL
Perspective from Interstate 65 north
Northbound Interstate 65 at the future westbound flyover for Interstate 22. A collector/distributor roadway will segregate movements from the Daniel Payne Drive on-ramp from the off-ramp to I-22 west. Photo taken 10/20/12.
Ramps from both I-65 north and Daniel Payne Drive will combine onto the westbound flyover for Interstate 22. A slip ramp from I-65 to U.S. 31 will depart from within the Interstate 22 stack onto the adjacent c/d roadway for the Fultondale interchange (Exit 266). Photo taken 10/20/12.
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 65 north
Interstate 565 76 miles at Decatur, AL
Interstate 440 183 miles at Nashville, TN
Interstate 40 overlap begin 185 miles at Nashville, TN

Sources

  1. "Corridor X dubbed Interstate 22." Mobile Register, July 27, 2003.
  2. "Officials say Corridor X to Jasper will be completed by spring 2005." Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper), September 6, 2003.
  3. House taps U.S. 78 as future I-22." Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, September 10, 2003.
  4. "I-22 designation close for U.S. 78." Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, November 15, 2003.
  5. "Corridor X becomes I-22." Birmingham News, Friday, April 15, 2005 by Ginny MacDonald.
  6. "I-22 link to border set to open" Birmingham News, Sunday, November 13, 2005 by Ginny MacDonald (article referral by Scott Morris and Chad Long in separate emails dated 11/13/05 and 11/14/05).
  7. "I-22." Personal email from H.C. White dated 12/10/2005.
  8. "13 miles of Corridor X to open." The Birmingham News, June 2, 2007.
  9. "26 miles of Corridor X to open Nov. 14." The Birmingham News, October 31, 2007.
  10. "Construction contract awarded for final link of Corridor X."
  11. The Birmingham News, June 16, 2010.
  12. Re: Interstate 22, AARoads Forum posting by Grzrd, September 30, 2010.
  13. Re: Interstate 22, AARoads Forum posting by Grzrd, September 12, 2011.
  14. "MDOT's District Two Offers Project Updates." MDOT News Release, June 19, 2012.
  15. "Birmingham I-65/Corridor X project set to launch Aug. 1." The Birmingham News, July 26, 2010.

Page Updated December 16, 2013.

 
Mileage

State Mississippi
Mileage 118
Cities Holly Springs, New Albany, Tupelo
Junctions Future Interstate 269
State Alabama
Mileage 95
Cities Hamilton, Jasper, Birmingham
Junctions Interstate 65
TOTAL 213
Source: Freeways of the Deep South (Adam Froehlig)
Future Interstate 22 Annual Average Daily Traffic

State Location AADT Composite Year
Alabama 11,700 Bexar 2010
Alabama 9,660 Hamilton 2010
Alabama 15,150 Jasper 2010
Alabama 15,650 Cordova 2010
Alabama 18,780 Graysville 2010
Alabama 8,880 Forestdale 2010
Source: 2010 Alabama Traffic Data
ALDOT Transportation Planning Bureau

 
The scene along Future Interstate 22 east ahead of Hurricane Creek and Exit 3 near Bexar. Photo taken 06/02/11.
Future Interstate 22 can be considered a scenic route throughout much of its path through northwestern Alabama.
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