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Interstate 59


Interstate 59 angles northeasterly from New Orleans through the Deep South to Hattiesburg, Meridian, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Chattanooga. The freeway sees a 153-mile overlap with Interstate 20 between Meridian and Birmingham, marking one of the longer overlaps in the Interstate System. U.S. 11 follows the entire length of Interstate 59 as well as Interstate 81; the only reason why these two highways do not carry the same number is the lengthy stretch of Interstate 75 that follows U.S. 11 between Chattanooga and Knoxville.

Although never actually making it into New Orleans, Interstate 59 provides an important evacuation and trucking route for the central Gulf Coast. The southern terminus is located at the same interchange as the eastern terminus of Interstate 12. This interchange is located where Interstate 10 curves from the New Orleans metropolitan area eastward to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. At one time, plans called for I-59 to be routed south along I-10 into New Orleans, but those plans changed with the decision to route I-12 north of Lake Pontchartrain.

Heading north from Louisiana, Interstate 59 follows a forested route through Mississippi, which is a general constant along most Deep South freeways. Hattiesburg (home of the University of Southern Mississippi), Laurel and Meridian are all important destinations in Mississippi. The freeway sees older urban stretches through the latter two cities. Of those, the S-curve in Laurel was notorious for its tight radii, narrow bridges and short exit ramps. Built in 1961, the S-curve routed I-59 by an adjacent hospital and public housing project with a 40 MPH speed limit posted along a 0.75-mile stretch. The freeway was redesigned starting in 2005 onto a new six-lane 1,980 foot long elevated viaduct with gentler curves. Work commenced in June 2006, leading to an August 2008 opening of the new northbound lanes and a September 2009 overall completion. Additional funding remained from the original S-curve project, leading to widening of two more miles of I-59 heading northward. This included expanding the freeway footprint and widening the median from four to 15 feet. The expansion project ran between October 2009 and fall 2010.1

Interstates 20 and 59 combine from west of Meridian, Mississippi northeasterly through to Birmingham, Alabama. Tuscaloosa, with the University of Alabama and the spur Interstate 359, is one significant destination along the way. The pair split with Interstate 459, the Birmingham belt line, at Bessemer City, as they bee line for Downtown Birmingham and an elevated viaduct east of the "Malfunction Junction" interchange with Interstate 65. The two part ways by Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) to Irondale and Trussville respectively.

The section of Interstate 59 northeast of Birmingham straddles the southern reaches of the Appalachian Mountains, amid scenic settings. The route serves Gadsden, home of another spur route, Interstate 759. I-59 enters Georgia, but it ends at Interstate 24. Neither I-24 nor I-59 connect directly to any other Interstate in Georgia; one must enter Tennessee and Chattanooga to connect to Interstate 75.

Parallel/Historic U.S. Routes

Interstate 59 follows U.S. 11 for its entirety between Slidell, Louisiana and Wildwood, Georgia. Short overlaps also exist with U.S. 98 along the west side of Hattiesburg, U.S. 84 through Laurel and U.S. 80 at Meridian, Mississippi.

U.S. 11 & 80 combine from Meridian east to Cuba, Alabama, where Interstate 85 may someday end. Northeast from there between Eutaw and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, parallel U.S. 11 combines with U.S. 43. Within Birmingham, U.S. 78 ties into the I-20 & 59 overlap both west of Downtown and east at Irondale. U.S. 411 begins in Leeds to mirror the course of I-59 northeast to Gadsden and Weiss Lake in Alabama as well.

Highway Guides


Interstate 59 in Mississippi opened initially from the Louisiana line toward Picayune and from Hattiesburg to Laurel in 1963. All of the route south of the merge with Interstate 20 was completed by 1969.2

Within Louisiana, Interstate 59 was constructed first across the Pearl River as the replacement route for U.S. 11 at St. Rose in 1958. The stretch southward into Slidell, along with Interstate 10 south to the Twin Bridges opened in 1965-66.

Southern Terminus - Interstate 10-12 - Slidell, Louisiana
Perspective from Interstate 59 south
Having just split with U.S. 11 at Exit 3, Interstate 59 southbound presses towards the terminus with Interstate 10/12 at Exits 1A/B. Photo taken 04/20/12.
This sign bridge, since removed, revealed that the mainline of Interstate 59 converts into Interstate 10 westbound. Access to Interstate 10 eastbound to Bay Saint Louis also continues straight toward a loop ramp at Exit 1B. Photo taken 08/20/01.
Beyond the Exit 1A departure to Interstate 12 west, Interstate 59 partitions into Exits 1B/C for Interstate 10 below the I-12 mainline. Photo taken 04/20/12.
Travelers continuing south to New Orleans join three westbound lanes of Interstate 10 ahead of U.S. 190 (Gause Boulevard) in Slidell. A seven mile drive carries motorists into Mississippi via Interstate 10 east from Exit 1B. Photo taken 04/20/12.
A look at older guide signs posted for the junction of Interstates 10-12-59 at the Interstate 59 South - Louisiana highway guide.
Perspective from Interstate 10 east
Interstate 10 eastbound at the Exit 266 off-ramp to U.S. 190 (Gause Boulevard) and the city of Slidell. Exits 267A/B for Interstate 12 west and 59 north follows in 1.5 miles. Interstate 10 maintains six lanes through the city of Slidell and reduces to four east of the Interstate 12 and 59 junction. Photo taken 04/20/12.
Continuing north from U.S. 190, Interstate 10 prepares to give way to Interstate 59 northbound as it returns to an easterly trajectory. The control city of Interstate 10 is listed as Bay Saint Louis, the first city of any consequence in the state of Mississippi. Interstate 10 eastbound also serves the greater Biloxi-Gulfport area, Pascagoula, and Mobile, Alabama, within the next 100 miles. Photo taken 04/20/12.
The eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 transition into the northbound beginning of Interstate 59 to the left. Interstate 10 adds a fourth lane to the right and reduces to two through lanes as it turns eastward toward Pearl River Wildlife Management Area and the NASA John C. Stennis Space Center. Photo taken 04/20/12.
Historical Perspective from Interstate 10 westbound
Guide signs for Interstates 12 and 59 were replaced, north from Exit 266, in 2000. U.S. 190 ends seven miles to the east of Interstate 10 at White Kitchen. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (05/27/00).
More photos from this perspective, including 2000-based sign installations, at the Interstate 10 East - New Orleans East to Mississippi highway guide.
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 10 east
Interstate 110 53 miles at D'Iberville, MS
Interstate 65 104 miles at Mobile, AL
Interstate 110 162 miles at Pensacola, FL
Perspective from Interstate 12 east
The first of in a series of Exits 85A/B/C guide signs on Interstate 12. This 1.25 mile signage is posted at the U.S. 11 underpass of Interstate 12 at the Exit 83 interchange for Slidell. Speed limits of Interstate 12 are posted at 70 MPH from Exit 10 eastward to the terminus. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/17/02).
Now within one mile of the eastern terminus of Interstate 12 and southern terminus of Interstate 59. All current Interstate 12 related signage was installed during the Spring 2000 replacement project. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/17/02).
The first off-ramp of the final interchange of Interstate 12 is for Interstate 10 westbound to the city of New Orleans. This guide sign is the first such panel for Exit 85A, as the ramp departs in 0.50 miles. The overpass in the background is that of Louisiana 1091. Louisiana 1090 and 1091 parallel the Interstate 10/59 north-south alignment through Slidell between U.S. 11 and 190. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/17/02).
Entering the Exit 85 interchange on Interstate 12 eastbound. Exit 1A departs for Interstate 10 west (south) back to Slidell and New Orleans. This north-south alignment of Interstate 10 was once touted as Interstate 59 in planning maps. Photo taken 10/04/01.
The preceding set of guide signs on Interstate 12 eastbound at Exit 1A/Interstate 10 west. Interstate 10 actually enters the expansive city limits of New Orleans in just 11 miles. The municipal boundary extends outward to the Orleans/Saint Tammany Parish Line over Lake Pontchartrain. Photo taken 11/06/99.
A third perspective of Exit 1A of Interstate 12 eastbound. Interstate 10 sees three Slidell area exits before crossing the seven mile Lake Pontchartrain Bridge. The final mainline exit of Interstate 12 meanwhile, serves the northbound beginning of Interstate 59/Exit 1B. Photo taken by Eric Stuve (12/17/02).
Interstate 59 northbound begins from Interstate 12 eastbound at the Exit 1B cloverleaf ramp. The Interstate also sees a Slidell area exit, three miles to the north. Interstate 59 otherwise travels 11.48 miles to the Mississippi State line near Nicholson before reaching Hattiesburg in 73 miles. Photo taken 10/04/01.
Interstate 12 draws to a close at the merge onto Interstate 10 eastbound. There are no more Louisiana interchanges in this direction, as Interstate 10 crosses the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area into the Magnolia State in seven miles. Photo taken 10/04/01.
Perspective from Interstate 10 west
Interstates 10 and 12 west split at Exit 267B on the north side of Slidell. The initial stretch of I-12 west carries drivers bound for the northbound beginning of Interstate 59. Photo taken 04/20/12.
Exit 267B departs a short distance beyond Interstate 10 for Interstate 59 north to Pearl River and Picayune, Mississippi. U.S. 11 north merges with the freeway at Exit 3. The US route also meets the first interchange of Interstate 12 at Exit 1. Photo taken 04/20/12.
Complete coverage of Interstate 10 west at Interstates 12 and 59, including replaced guide signs, at Interstate 10 West - Mississippi to New Orleans East highway guide.
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 10 west
Interstate 510 21 miles at east New Orleans, LA
Interstate 610 29 miles at New Orleans, LA
Interstate 910 34 miles at downtown New Orleans, LA
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 12 west
Interstate 55 47 miles at Hammond, LA
Interstate 10 85 miles at Baton Rouge, LA
-- --
Northern Terminus - Interstate 24 - Wildwood, Georgia
Perspective from Interstate 59 north
This northbound mileage sign is posted just after Interstate 59 enters the state of Georgia. Interstate 59 is 19.94 miles in length within the Peach State as it parallels U.S. 11 by the towns of Rising Fawn, Trenton, and New England. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
Interstate 24 Junction sign, 1.25 miles south of the northern terminus. Interstate 24 dips into the Peach State for 4.12 miles, just long enough to intercept Interstate 59. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
Within the final mile of Interstate 59 is this Interstate 24/Exit 4 sign bridge. Georgia switched to mileage based exit numbering in 1999/2000. Yet somehow this signage escaped an update as it maintained the sequential based format. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
A sign replacement project underway during 2003 removes the Exit 4 sequential exit number. Unfortunately now there is no exit number, though it should display Exits 19A/B. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/14/03).
The split of Interstate 59 into the respective directions of Interstate 24. Chattanooga is ten miles to the east at this point. The Tennessee capital city is 135 miles to the northwest. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
Both of the original sign bridge assemblies Pictured above are replaced with these new fixtures as of Summer 2003. The new guide signs again omit an exit number. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/14/03).
Perspective from Interstate 24 west
Interstate 24 retains its Tennessee exit numbering scheme while within the state of Georgia. Therefore instead of Exit 2, the northern terminus of Interstate 59 is numbered Exit 167. The 2003 guide sign is a button copy relic, and is the only sign to escape sign replacement as of August 24, 2003 ... but this sign was gone by 2005. Photos taken 06/18/05 and by Chris Patriarca (07/14/03).
A diagrammatic sign is located 0.75 mile prior to the split of Interstate 59 south and Interstate 24 west. This sign was placed in June 2003. Photo taken 06/18/05.
Interstate 24 westbound widens to three lanes in anticipation of the southbound departure of Interstate 59. The freeway carries the control city of Birmingham from its inception at Interstate 75 in Chattanooga due to this connection. Photos taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03) and on 06/18/05.
Interstate 24 and Interstate 59 split. Interstate 24 turns northwest to reenter the Volunteer State in two miles. Interstate 59 travels southwest to Trenton and Rising Fawn before crossing the Alabama state line. The scenic freeway reaches Alabama's largest city in 127 miles. The final sign bridge is also new, and features highly reflective signs. One signing oddity to note. These newer reflective signs often omit the dot of the letter I. This was a common sight in Atlanta for the control city of Birmingham between 1999-2000. Crews have gone back and amended those errors, but now will have to dot the I in the control cities of Birmingham and Nashville here (this was not done as of June 2005). Photos taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03 and 07/14/03).
Perspective from Interstate 24 east
Near the Georgia/Tennessee state line is the two mile guide sign for Interstate 59 south/Exit 167. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
A pair of button copy signs directed traffic to the respective directions of Interstate 24 east and Interstate 59 south. The time zone boundary between Central and Eastern occurs just north of this interchange. It follows the Alabama/Georgia line northward, than bypasses Chattanooga along the Marion/Hamilton County line. This line used to be further east, allowing for both Atlanta and Chattanooga to be situated within the Eastern Time Zone. See the next photograph for the sign replacement. Photos taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
The button copy signs Pictured above are no longer in place. Instead a new overhead sign bridge directs motorists toward Interstate 59 southbound. Roadway construction sees the expansion of eastbound to three lanes, with an exit-only lane for Exit 167. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/14/03).
A second set of overheads orientates motorists through the Interstate 59 northern terminus interchange. This particular assembly is also new as of Summer 2003. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/14/03).
Interstate 24 curves back to the northeast and returns to Tennessee in two miles. Exit 167 to Interstate 59 southbound departs to the right. Interstate 59 is a lonely stretch between the metro Birmingham area and Interstate 24 as it traverses the lower piedmont of the Appalachian Mountains. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (07/14/03).
The new sign bridge Pictured in the above photo replaces the sign bridge featured here. Note in contrast to the next photograph, that Interstate 59 originally was allocated two lanes instead of one. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (02/01/03).
Original button copy sign bridge at the Interstate 24 eastbound split with Interstate 59 south. Note that the Tennessee milepost based Exit 167 number was in use from the beginning of Interstate 24's completion through north Georgia. Photo taken by Michael Summa (1984).


  1. "Interstate 59 - Realigned interstate trades hazardous history for a safer future." Infrastructure Quarterly, 2009 Volume 1 Issue 2.
  2. Interstate Highway 59, Adam Froehlig.

Page Updated June 27, 2015.

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State Louisiana
Mileage 11.48
Cities Slidell
Junctions Interstate 10/Interstate 12
State Mississippi
Mileage 171.72
Cities Picayune, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Meridian
Junctions Interstate 20
State Alabama
Mileage 241.36
Cities Tuscaloosa, Bessemer, Birmingham,Gadsden, Ft. Payne
Junctions Interstate 359, Interstate 459, Interstate 65, Interstate 20, Interstate 459, Interstate 759
State Georgia
Mileage 20.67
Cities None
Junctions Interstate 24
TOTAL 445.23
Source: December 31, 2014 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 59 Annual Average Daily Traffic

Parish From: To: AADT Composite
Saint Tammany Interstate 10/12 Exit 3/U.S. 11/LA 1090 south 29,306
Saint Tammany Exit 3/U.S. 11/LA 1090 south Exit 5A/Louisiana 41 Spur 20,987
Saint Tammany Exit 5A/Louisiana 41 Spur MS State line 21,140
Source: Louisiana 2000 Traffic Volume Monitoring (LADOTD)

Interstate 59 corridor between Hattiesburg and Meridian, 1967
Interstate 59 was completed from Heidelberg (Mississippi 528) north to the west split with Interstate 20 by 1969.2