Interstate 22

Routing

Interstate 22 is the designation for the U.S. 78 / Corridor X freeway (High Priority Corridor 10) between Memphis, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama. I-22 begins where future Interstate 269 crosses paths with U.S. 78 outside Byhalia, Mississippi. Taking a mostly rural route, I-22 runs east southeasterly to Holly Springs and through Holly Springs National Forest before reaching the south side of New Albany. Beyond an older stretch there that was upgraded, Corridor X continues to the Tupelo area, where it crosses paths with the U.S. 45 freeway leading south to Shannon and north to Saltillo.

The remainder of Interstate 22 in Mississippi ventures east over hilly terrain to Fulton and the Alabama state line east of Tremont. Once in Alabama, I-22 passes by Hamilton, Guin and Winfield to Walker County. The freeway doubles as Alabama 4 throughout the Heart of Dixie.

Advancing eastward, I-22 travels north of Eldridge and Carbon Hill through areas of the Appalachian piedmont. The freeway passes between Horseshoe Mountain and Mc Clesky Hill before swinging southeast by Jasper and Cordova. Once near Graysville, U.S. 78 separates from Interstate 22 for an arterial route south to Adamsville, Forestdale and Birmingham while I-22 parallels Fivemile Creek east to Coalburg and Interstate 65 near Lewisburg. A ribbon cutting ceremony took place on June 20, 2016 for the final segment, between Coalburg Road and I-65. Future work will connect the east end with U.S. 31.

The first official Interstate 22 signs were installed in Marion and Walker Counties, Alabama by April 2013. Interstate 22 was formally designated in Mississippi at a signage ceremony held on October 23, 2015 at New Albany.16

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).

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 initially expected in 2012, with the major section from Graysville to the Mississippi State Line open by December 2006.5

Parallel U.S. Routes

Interstate 22 parallels or overlays 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. Mississippi may do the same, decommision the US route or retain it as a concurrency with I-22.16

History

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. 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

Alabama began work on 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 eventual Interstate 22 traveled from the Mississippi/Tennessee state line near Memphis east southeastward to Alabama 129 near Winfield (Exit 30). Additionally the Jasper bypass, I-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 more 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 were slated to open on November 14, 2007 (a ribbon cutting ceremony eventually took place on November 22, 2007) 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 Interstate 22 between Coalburg Road and Interstate 65 was in place. This view looked from an adjacent subdivision at the interchange with Interstate 65. Photo taken October 20, 2012.

The final five mile stretch of Interstate 22 in Alabama linked the new freeway to the Interstate system, with a $145 million interchange proposed at Interstate 65. Associated work included a $73 million widening project for I-65 between 41st Avenue North and 16th Street North near the 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. The work added three-lane collector distributor roadways along a four-mile stretch of Interstate 65. Completion of the Interstate 22 and 65 interchange was estimated for 2010.9, two years earlier than a previously suggested Fall 2012 completion date, but ultimately 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. Following was a $168.6-million contact let on May 21, 2010 for work commencing July 2010 on the final 2.5 miles of I-22 in Alabama. Construction continued through October 15, 2014, the revised completion date, on the I-22/65 interchange project.10 Delays surrounding the design of one of the bridges pushed back completion of the new interchange to late August 201515, and again until June 2016.

The interchange under construction between Interstates 22 and 65 includes 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 Interstates 65 and 22 near Fultondale. Photo taken October 20, 2012.

Construction Progress - Mississippi

Meanwhile along the Mississippi stretch of Interstate 22, much of the route was completed in the mid-1990s as a freeway. Certain portions of the freeway however were not up to Interstate standards. These included stretches of shoulder less 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 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 included upgrades to the median, was expected to be completed in November 2012. Rubblization and repaving through Desoto and Marshall Counties continued to June 2013.13 Completion of the needed improvements to I-22 lead to the route being made official in Mississippi by AASHTO on May 15, 2015.

Future Interstate 22 at I-65

The U.S. 78 freeway through New Albany (Exits 63 through 61) and the Tallahatchie River bridge was previously substandard in nature with a narrow curbed median and no barrier to separate traffic. The New Albany bypass was under construction by 1967. Photo taken June 1, 2010.

The ultimate plans, funding and construction of the I-22 western extent was thought to take seven to eight years, with connections to the existing Memphis Interstate network via U.S. 78, U.S. 72, Tennessee 385, or Mississippi 304.2 The end point was eventually narrowed down to I-269, the Memphis outer beltway. Construction for I-269 in Mississippi runs through 2018, which upon completion, will complete the link between I-22 and I-55 & 69 at Hernando, Mississippi.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Interstate 269 and U.S. 78 - Byhalia, Mississippi
A full cloverleaf interchange with collector distributor roadways along both Interstate 22 and Interstate 269 will join the two freeways in a rural area near Byhalia. This view looks along U.S. 78 east under the four sets of bridges that will eventually carry I-269 and the c/d roadways. Photo taken by Chris Kalina (03/08/14).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 65 - Birmingham, Alabama
Perspective from Interstate 22 east
The future travel lanes of Interstate 22 ended abruptly on a bluff above Interstate 65. Eventually these dropped quickly below I-65 mainline with a stub end ahead of U.S. 31. A flyover otherwise joins 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 were in place for the eventual flyover ramps connecting Interstates 22 and 65. The $168.6-million project interchange includes an 85 foot tall flyover from I-65 north to I-22 west.14 Photo taken 10/20/12.
The Interstate 22 mainline now passes below Interstate 65 in this scene to connect with adjacent U.S. 31 in the future. A separate contract was to focus on construction of 3,000 feet of roadway linking I-22 and U.S. 31. Completion of this element of the project was expected in 2014,14 then in 2015. It ultimately opened to traffic on June 20, 2016. Photo taken 10/20/12.
Perspective from Interstate 65 north
Northbound Interstate 65 at the future westbound flyover for Interstate 22. The nearby Daniel Payne Drive on-ramp passes below this flyover onto I-65 north. 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.

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, November 13, 2005.
  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.
  16. "Interstate 22 interchange on target for August completion, contractor tells ALDOT" The Birmingham News, March 26, 2015.

Page Updated June 21, 2016.



More Info

Mileage

State Mississippi
Mileage 106.00
Cities Holly Springs, New Albany, Tupelo
Junctions Future Interstate 269
State Alabama
Mileage 93.60
Cities Hamilton, Jasper, Birmingham
Junctions Interstate 65
TOTAL 199.60
Source: December 31, 2015 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 22 Annual Average Daily Traffic

State AADT Composite Location 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 Interstate 22 east ahead of Hurricane Creek and Exit 3 near Bexar. Photo taken 06/02/11.
Interstate 22 can be considered a scenic route throughout much of its path through northwestern Alabama.
The final stretch of U.S. 78 upgraded to freeway standards ran through Holly Springs National Forest between Holly Springs and Myrtle. 1992 Mississippi Official Highway Map
Initial stretches of U.S. 78 freeway ran southeast from the Tennessee state line past Olive Branch by 1977, the New Albany bypass, and a short stretch near Tupelo.
Future Interstate 22 signs such as this one were placed in Mississippi along the U.S. 78 route in 2004. Photo taken by Jeremy Hamm, 01/01/05.
Similar signs were placed in Jasper, Alabama, in April 2005.6
Corridor X was initially opened in Alabama from the Mississippi state line to Alabama 17 near Hamilton - 1993 Official Alabama Highway Map
Construction extended Corridor X eastward to Alabama 44 at Twin. The freeway was initially numbered as Alabama 138 before later becoming part of Alabama 4, the companion state route to U.S. 78.