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Interstate 555 Arkansas

 

A new bridge will carry Interstate 555 north over its parent, Interstate 55 near Turrell, Arkansas. Completion of Interstate 555 is expected in the next few years. Photo taken by Robert Lee (07/08/06).

Routing

Interstate 555 does not exist yet, but it is signed as a future, 48-mile route from Interstate 55 at Turrell, Arkansas, northwest to Arkansas 91 near Jonesboro. The route was approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on January 10, 2001 (after being submitted by Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department in Fall 2000).2 It is proposed to connect to future Interstate 730 at the current Arkansas 226 intersection with U.S. 49. Although not planned to do so currently, Interstate 555 may ultimately connect with the U.S. 67 freeway (potential future Interstate 30 or Interstate 57, depending on who you ask) near Hoxie.

High Priority Corridor

Future Interstate 555 in its entirety is part of High Priority Corridor 39: U.S. 63 from Marked Tree to I-55.

Future Aspirations

On April 16, 1999, AASHTO's Route Numbering Subcommittee disapproved the establishment of Interstate 555 between Interstate 55 north of Marion and Arkansas 91 in Jonesboro via U.S. 63 because significant portions of the route were substandard and would not for some time. On December 9, 2000, the Route Numbering subcommittee of AASHTO approved the designation of Interstate 555 as a future route between Marion and U.S. 49 (rather than Arkansas 91).

Future Interstate 555 is High Priority Corridor 39, which provides for a freeway route from Interstate 55 near Turrell northwest to the city of Jonesboro via U.S. 63. This 44-mile route is proposed to be constructed to Interstate standards as Interstate 555.1

As of December 2003, only 26 miles of the total route between Jonesboro and Payneway is built to Interstate standards; the remaining 18 miles will need to be upgraded. That distinction will change with the ground breaking of a new overpass for Arkansas 149 in Poinsett County. This is one portion of the $100 million federally funded project that will see the completion of Interstate 555. Additionally, interchanges are to be constructed in 2004 at Arkansas 118 and Arkansas 135 near the city of Tyronza. An upgrade of the Interstate 55/U.S. 63 junction to a freeway-to-freeway connection is slated.1

U.S. 63 Extension

Interstate 555 is a relatively new Interstate route, having been added as a result of the designation of U.S. 63 as a high priority corridor in 1998. The 1999 extension of U.S. 63 also plays into the importance of Interstate 555. Through that extension, U.S. 63 was extended south from its previous terminus at Turrell south to Interstate 20 at Ruston, Louisiana.

A good portion of U.S. 63 is routed over Interstate 55 and Interstate 40 between Turrell and Hazen. Looking at a map, U.S. 63 jogs southeast along the Interstate 555 corridor only to be sent southwest from there. Since Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) guidelines do not allow cosigning U.S. routes along Interstate highways, U.S. 63 is currently unsigned while combined with Interstate 40 and 55 between Turrell and Hazen. The guidelines of AHTD delineate that any Interstate-U.S. overlap omit U.S. reassurance shields (there are exceptions, such as the U.S. 71 overlap with Interstate 540 in Fort Smith).

However, it is possible that once Interstate 555 is completed and signed, U.S. 63 would be rerouted due south from Jonesboro, perhaps along Arkansas 1, to offer a more direct, signed route with the to the newer southern extension. Only time will tell.

Two Interstates to Jonesboro?

A plan floated by the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce proposes to create a new Interstate Highway, Interstate 730, via Arkansas 226 between Interstate 555 in Jonesboro and U.S. 67 near Swifton. This would coincide with an Interstate 30 extension along the preexisting U.S. 67 freeway between Little Rock and Newport to Walnut Ridge northwest of Jonesboro.

Southern Terminus - Interstate 55 - Turrell, Arkansas
Perspective from Future Interstate 555/U.S. 63 south
With the completion of recent construction, new signage has been installed on southbound Interstate 555 and U.S. 63 as the freeway approaches its junction with Interstate 55 (Exits 1B-A). U.S. 63 silently merges onto southbound Interstate 55, while Interstate 555 comes to an end. Photo taken by Robert Lee (07/08/06).
Use the right lane to connect to southbound Interstate 55/U.S. 61-63 south to Memphis. The left lane connects to Interstate 55 north to St. Louis. Photo taken by Robert Lee (07/08/06).
Southbound Interstate 555 splits here. Construction barricades were still in place at the time this photo was taken. Interstate 555 ends, and the freeway separates to southbound and northbound Interstate 55 (Exits 1B-A). Photo taken by Robert Lee (07/08/06).
Perspective from Interstate 55 north
As seen from the frontage road, northbound Interstate 55 approaches Exit 23, Junction Interstate 555. Interstate 555 and U.S. 63 travel northwest to Marked Tree and Jonesboro. Photo taken by Robert Lee (07/08/06).
Northbound Interstate 55 reaches Exit 23, Junction Interstate 555 and U.S. 63 northwest to Marked Tree and Jonesboro. Photo taken by Robert Lee (07/08/06).
Once on the transition ramp to northbound Interstate 555/U.S. 63, this sign has room for the future addition of an Interstate 555 shield next to the U.S. 63 shield. The first ramp exits to Arkansas 77 to Turrell (old U.S. 61). Photo taken by Robert Lee (07/08/06).
This photo shows the former configuration (pre-construction) when northbound Interstate 55 reaches Exit 23A, Junction Arkansas 77, approaching Exit 23B, Junction U.S. 63 north. U.S. 63 follows Interstate 555. The existing cloverleaf interchange is slated for improvements to Interstate standards. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (12/29/01) - his webpage is Highway Ends.
Perspective from Interstate 55 south
Now looking south, Interstate 55 southbound approaches Exit 23, Junction Interstate 555, U.S. 63, and Arkansas 77. Interstate 555 and U.S. 63 travel northwest to Marked Tree and Jonesboro. Photo taken by Robert Lee (07/08/06).
The first ramp connects southbound Interstate 55 with northbound Interstate 555 and U.S. 63 (Exit 23A), and the second ramp connects with Arkansas 77 (Exit 23B). Photo taken by Robert Lee (07/08/06).
Perspective from Arkansas 77 north
Now looking north on Arkansas 77, this photo shows the construction underway at the Interstate 55/Future Interstate 555/U.S. 63 interchange. Photo taken by Robert Lee (07/08/06).
This photo shows the same area (beginning of Future Interstate 555/U.S. 63 north) as seen from the east side of the Interstate 55 interchange back in 2001, before most construction began. Arkansas 77 continues north through this interchange. It is clear that interchange modifications are required to improve this connection to Interstate standards. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (12/29/01).
Now at the top of the Interstate 55 overpass, northbound Arkansas 77 is joined by U.S. 63 north and Future Interstate 555 north. The divided highway begins in the distance, just northwest of the interchange. Since the time this photo was taken, construction has changed the look of this area. Arkansas 77 continues northwest along with U.S. 63 until Exit 2, where it turns north toward Birdsong. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (12/29/01).
Northern Terminus - Arkansas 91 - Jonesboro, Arkansas
Originally, the planned northerly terminus of Interstate 555 was to be Exit 45, Junction U.S. 49 and Arkansas 18 in Jonesboro. However, according to Jeff Chastain (Public Relations Director of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce), the north terminus has been changed to the intersection of U.S. 63 (future Interstate 555) and Arkansas 91. Photo taken by Chris Lawrence (02/03).

Sources

  1. Information obtained from "I-555 work starts with ceremony in Marked Tree" posted on the GoMemphis: Mid-south News July 4, 2003
  2. Notice to Media: New Interstate to be designated in Arkansas (January 10, 2004)

Page Updated July 16, 2006.

 
Mileage

State Arkansas
Mileage between 13 and 48 miles
Cities Marked Tree, Trumann, Jonesboro
Junctions Interstate 55
Source: 2002 Rand McNally Road Atlas (*-estimate)
 
A sign proclaiming the corridor of Future Interstate 555 posted along U.S. 63 between Interstate 55 and Jonesboro. Photo taken by Chris Lawrence (2001).
Chris Lawrence maintains an information web site on the nearby progress of Interstate 69's southward extension.
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