Proposed Interstate 565 on the 1974 Alabama Official Highway Map
Interstate 565 directly overlaid or replaced U.S. 72 Alternate between Decatur and Huntsville.
Huntsville inset - 1980 Alabama Official Highway Map
Had the north Huntsville bypass of Alabama 255 been completed, through traffic needs across Chapman Mountain may have been addressed. As such, only the north-south portion of AL 255, between I-565 and AL 53 was constructed as a full freeway.
Interstate 565 constitutes a spur between Interstate 65 and Decatur eastward to Huntsville and U.S. 72. This freeway replaced Alternate U.S. 72 and Alabama 20, and it is part of High Priority Corridor 7. Completion of the route fuel growth in the Huntsville area in conjunction with research at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the Redstone Arsenal. A series of upgrades to expressway standards were also undertaken along U.S. 72 as a result of the high priority designation.
High Priority Corridor
Existing and proposed Interstate 565 is part of High Priority Corridor 7: U.S. 72 and High Priority Corridor 11: ADHS Corridor V.
Plans call for extensions to Interstate 565 both east and west. ALDOT officials planned a three-mile extension of Interstate 565 eastward over Chapman Mountain to a new split-diamond interchange at Moores Mill and Shields Roads. Construction of the $21.5 million project was slated to start in 2007.1 Construction never broke ground then, perhaps because of safety concerns with the at-grade intersection between U.S. 72 and High Mountain Road, between Maysville and Moores Mill Roads. A public meeting held December 15, 2011 outlined the $30-million interchange design with an elimination of intersection at High Mountain Road. This change would have extended the limited access highway portion of U.S. 72 through to Shields Road.7 Instead work through February 2016 expands U.S. 72 to six lanes through to Shields Road.8
Interstate 565 may extend west of Interstate 65 for a couple miles toward Decatur, terminating at the U.S. 31 bridges over the Tennessee River. The Fiscal Year 2005 Federal Transportation Department appropriations bill passed by Congress on November 20, 2004, included $3 million to begin efforts to extend Interstate 565 west to Decatur.3 Further funds were identified in the SAFETEA-LU legislation that was signed by President Bush in August 2005. Further extensions west are not specifically outlined at this time, but they may connect into High Priority Corridor 7 expressway improvements along Alabama 24.
19.2 miles of Interstate 565 were initially approved for the Interstate system in 1969 (approved by AASHTO on June 23, 1969).5 Construction would take over two decades, with the freeway fully open by December 1991.6 Further work extended the freeway slightly east with the May 17, 2004 opening of the new interchange between U.S. 72 (Lee Highway), Maysville Road and I-565 at Chapman Mountain (Exit 21).2 U.S. 72 merges with the freeway ahead of its conclusion at Epworth Drive.
$9.4-million in construction added two new ramps between Interstate 565 and County Line Road between December 2013 and April 10, 2015.9 These movements compliment the adjacent wye interchange with Madison Boulevard.
Another new directional T interchange will be constructed along Interstate 565 about a half mile west of the Zierdt Road underpass for the Town Madison project. Town Madison will feature a number of big box stores and 1.5 million square feet of retail and commercial space on the south side of I-565 at Zierdt Road. Approved by ALDOT and the FHWA on August 28, 2015, work will begin in 2016 and run through June 2017.11 The interchange was previously proposed in 2007, but traffic numbers did not support it.10
Interstate 565 concludes westbound at its parent, five miles to the east of Decatur. A two-mile guide sign precedes the junction. Photo taken by David Prince (03/21/16).
All traffic to Interstate 65 departs Interstate 565 in unison at Exit 1. U.S. 72 Alternate and Alabama 20 continues west from the freeway end to downtown Decatur and Muscle Shoals. Photo taken 12/28/09.
Drivers bound for Birmingham or Nashville depart Interstate 565 & U.S. 72 Alternate at Exit 1. Although signage indicates that Interstate 565 continues onward, the designation concludes on the west side of this interchange. Photo taken 12/28/09.
A directional ramp leads southbound from I-565 west to I-65 south, 74 miles north of Birmingham. Nashville, Tennessee is 101 miles northward. Photo taken 12/28/09.
An Interstate 565 ends advisory sign resides at the western end of the freeway. Alabama 20 begins and heads a short distance to U.S. 31, with both highways sharing an overlap across Wheeler Lake into Decatur. Photo taken by David Prince (03/21/16).
Perspective from Alternate U.S. 72 & Alabama 20 east
U.S. 72 Alternate and Alabama 20 approach the directional-cloverleaf interchange with Interstates 65 and 565 east. This use of this "controlled access highway " signage is unique to Interstate 565 within the Heart of Dixie. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Exit 1A leaves U.S. 72 Alternate & Alabama 20 east for Interstate 65 southbound to Birmingham. I-65 crosses the Tennessee River on the seven mile drive to Priceville and the next exit (Alabama 67). Alabama 20 concludes here, with all references to the overlap along I-565 removed east of I-65. Photo taken by David Prince (03/21/16).
Exit 1B loops from Interstate 565 & U.S. 72 Alternate east onto Interstate 65 north. I-65 next enters Athens on the 26-mile trek to Ardmore at the Tennessee state line. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Perspective from Interstate 65 south
Interstate 65 parallels Piney Creek southward on the two mile approach to Interstate 565 east, U.S. 72 Alternate and Alabama 20 west (Exits 340B/A). Photo taken by David Prince (03/20/16).
Spanning a Norfolk-Southern Railroad line, one mile north of the directional-cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 565 on I-65 south. Photo taken by David Prince (03/20/16).
Although the first exit from the north, Alabama 20 & U.S. 72 Alternate west is signed as Exit 340A instead of 340B. The Morgan County seat of Decatur is just a five minute drive to the southwest. Photo taken by David Prince (03/20/16).
A loop ramp carries motorists onto Interstate 565 & U.S. 72 Alternate east to Mooresville, Madison, Huntsville International Airport and Huntsville. The city limits of the "Rocket City" extend this far west, though Downtown is 19 miles away. Photo taken by David Prince (03/20/16).
Interstate 65 traverses Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and the Tennessee River upon entering Limestone County. I-565 lies one mile to the north. Photo taken 04/04/13.
Interstate 565 east serves Redstone Arsenal and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in addition to Huntsville. Various technological weapons for the U.S. Military are developed at the facility. Photo taken 04/04/13.
A collector distributor roadway facilitates movements between Interstate 65 northbound and I-565 & U.S. 72 Alternate east and U.S. 72 Alternate & Alabama 20 west. Photo taken 04/04/13.
A two-lane ramp departs the Exit 340 c/d roadway for Interstate 565 east. A greenout for "East" covers "North", as the freeway was initially set with north/south directions for motorists to and from Birmingham.6 Photo taken 04/04/13.
Eastern Terminus - U.S. 72 and Alabama 2 - Huntsville, Alabama
Perspective from Interstate 565 east
Leaving Oakwood Avenue, Interstate 565 continues another mile to a folded-diamond interchange (Exit 21) with U.S. 72 (Lee Highway) west and Maysville Road south. Photo taken 12/28/09.
Climbing onto Chapman Mountain, Interstate 565 reaches the Exit 21 loop ramp onto U.S. 72 (Lee Highway) west to Sparkman Drive and U.S. 231 & 431 (Memorial Parkway). U.S. 72 east merges onto the ending freeway ahead. Photo taken 12/28/09.
A new end shield is posted on U.S. 72 eastbound for Interstate 565 ahead of a service road connecting the four-lane highway with adjacent Epworth Drive and High Mountain Road. When the interchange at Moores Mill and Shields Road to the east is completed, I-565 will extend another two miles. Photo taken by Jason Ilyes (05/09/04).
Historical Perspective from Interstate 565 east
Interstate 565 eastbound originally concluded beyond the interchange (Exit 20) with Oakwood Avenue. A series of end signs preceded the wye interchange along the elevated viaduct leaving downtown Huntsville.
As a result of the extension of Interstate 565, the "END" and distances were concealed with an overlay panel, so only the 565 shield shows on the left panel of this sign.4 Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (01/26/03).
Eastbound Interstate 565 at Exit 20 to Oakwood Avenue. Traffic was again reminded of the freeway terminus and connection to U.S. 72. The Jackson County seat of Scottsboro is 41 miles to the east while the connection via U.S. 72 to Interstate 24 is another 34 miles beyond that town. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (01/26/03).
The Interstate 565 viaduct and freeway designation concluded with the position of this end shield ahead of an at-grade intersection with U.S. 72 (Lee Highway) west and Maysville Road. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (01/26/03).
Perspective from U.S. 72 west
U.S. 72 ascends over Chapman Mountain and transitions into the westbound beginning of Interstate 565 beyond the intersection to High Mountain Road and Epworth Drive. A begin controlled access highway sign formally recognizes the I-565 start. Photo taken 12/28/09.
Exit 21 quickly departs from Interstate 565 west for U.S. 72 (Lee Highway) west to Sparkman Drive. U.S. 72 Alternate begins and coincides with all of I-565 west to I-65 and SR 20 near Decatur. Photo taken 12/28/09.
Historical Perspective from U.S. 72 west / Interstate 565 west
Button copy overhead for U.S. 72 west that was posted at the turn lane for Lee Highway ahead of the then-signalized intersection with Maysville Road. U.S. 72 leads northwest from Huntsville and Madison to Athens, but a better way to the city is to take I-565 west to I-65 north. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (01/26/03).
The previous westbound beginning of Interstate 565 occurred at Exit 20 for Oakwood Avenue and Andrew Jackson Way. The letters for "Begin" were removed since this photo was shot. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (01/26/03).
"I-565 could go beyond Shields Road." Huntsville Times, August 15, 2004.
Lamb, Daniel. "I-565 Exit 21 Now Open." Online posting, Yahoo Groups - Southeast Roads and Transport, May 17, 2004.
"Appropriations bill includes $3 million for I-565 extension: Money to be used to stretch road west toward Decatur"http://www.al.com/news/huntsvilletimes/index.ssf?/base/news/1101204900271040.xml in Huntsville Times, November 23, 2004.
Philip R. "I-269 broken link / I-565 info and question / I-69 MS info." Personal Email, 1/18/08.
"Confusing signs to be changed." Gadsden Times, December 18, 1991.
"The Interstate System." Tuscaloosa News, September 21, 1969.
"Change of plans for U.S. 72 project at Moores Mill, Shields roads." The Huntsville Times, December 13, 2011.