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.
— AL.com (@aldotcom) June 20, 2016
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, decommission the US route or retain it as a concurrency with I-22.16
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
East End – Birmingham, AL
West End – Byhalia, MS
Branch Routes – 0
Total Mileage – 202.22
Mississippi – 106.00
Cities – Holly Springs, New Albany, Tupelo
- Junctions –
Alabama – 96.22
Cities – Hamilton, Jasper, Birmingham
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-22 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
Source: 2010 Alabama Traffic Data
ALDOT Transportation Planning Bureau
Interstate 22 can be considered a scenic route throughout much of its course through northwestern Alabama.
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.
Similar signs were placed in Jasper, Alabama, in April 2005.6
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.
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. This is confirmed with the June 28, 2016 sign plans showing End and Begin shield assemblies planned for the interchange with I-269 [see page 50 of the MDOT document “Section 905 – Proposal”].
Construction for Interstate 269 in Mississippi runs through mid-October 2018, which upon completion, will complete the link between I-22 and Interstate 55 and 69 at Hernando, Mississippi.
East End – Birmingham, Alabama
West End – Byhalia, Mississippi
- “Corridor X dubbed Interstate 22.” Mobile Register, July 27, 2003.
- “Officials say Corridor X to Jasper will be completed by spring 2005.” Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper), September 6, 2003.
- House taps U.S. 78 as future I-22.” Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, September 10, 2003.
- “I-22 designation close for U.S. 78.” Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, November 15, 2003.
- “Corridor X becomes I-22.” Birmingham News, Friday, April 15, 2005 by Ginny MacDonald.
- “I-22 link to border set to open” Birmingham News, November 13, 2005.
- “I-22.” Personal email from H.C. White dated 12/10/2005.
- “13 miles of Corridor X to open.” The Birmingham News, June 2, 2007.
- “26 miles of Corridor X to open Nov. 14.” The Birmingham News, October 31, 2007.
- “Construction contract awarded for final link of Corridor X.” The Birmingham News, June 16, 2010.
- Re: Interstate 22, AARoads Forum posting by Grzrd, September 30, 2010.
- Re: Interstate 22, AARoads Forum posting by Grzrd, September 12, 2011.
- “MDOT’s District Two Offers Project Updates.” MDOT News Release, June 19, 2012.
- “Birmingham I-65/Corridor X project set to launch Aug. 1.” The Birmingham News, July 26, 2010.
- “Interstate 22 interchange on target for August completion, contractor tells ALDOT” The Birmingham News, March 26, 2015.
Page updated May 16, 2017.