I-22 and I-65 come together at a multi level interchange at Lewisburg in Birmingham. 10/08/16
Interstate 22 is the designation for the freeway along U.S. 78 / Corridor X (High Priority Corridor 10) between Memphis, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama. I-22 begins where Interstate 269 converges with U.S. 78 at 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 at New Albany that was upgraded, Corridor X continues to the Tupelo area, where it meets the freeway along U.S. 45 leading south to Shannon and north to Saltillo.
The remainder of Interstate 22 in Mississippi traverses hilly terrain east to Fulton and the Alabama state line beyond Tremont. Once in Alabama, I-22 passes by Hamilton, Guin and Winfield to Walker County. The freeway doubles as Alabama Route 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 shifting 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 of I-22, between Coalburg Road and I-65. Although unfunded, 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. I-22 was formally designated in Mississippi at a signage ceremony held on October 23, 2015 at New Albany.16
Looking east from the Highway 309 overpass at Interstate 22/U.S. 78 in Byhalia, Mississippi. 01/13/19
Interstate 22 is part of High Priority Corridor 10: ADHS Corridor X from Memphis to Birmingham. Its designation was written into law. “Corridor X” was 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 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
Interstate 22 parallels or overlays U.S. 78 for its entire duration. It was previously thought that U.S. 78 would return to its original alignment 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 The Alabama Official Highway Map also showed parts of the pre-freeway alignment as U.S. 78 Alternate, though that designation has not been posted.
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 I-66, I-69, I-73, I-74, and I-99, is part of a collection of Interstate routes whose designation was written into law.
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 I-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 marking them as a part of Future Interstate 22.1 The I-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 I-22 designation for U.S. 78. The 2004 appropriations bill for transportation contained language indicating that once the Corridor X freeway extends to I-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