Interstate 55

Interstate 55 Mississippi Interstate 55 Tennessee Interstate 55 Arkansas
North End
South End
I-55 Memphis-Arkansas Bridge
Interstate 55 and U.S. 61-64-70-79 cross the Mississippi River on the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge built in 1949. The cantilever truss bridge does not meet modern Interstate standards due to its lack of shoulders. However, this span is the only Interstate Highway bridge in Tennessee included in the National Register of Historic Places.1 I-55 crosses the Mississippi River again on the Poplar Street Bridge that connects St. Louis, Missouri, with East St. Louis, Illinois. 06/01/10


Interstate 55 parallels the Mississippi River for much of its length. The route originates at Interstate 10 outside the city of La Place, located west of New Orleans in the Delta region. The freeway runs northward along an isthmus between Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain between LaPlace and Ponchatola. This section of Interstate 55 is elevated. Meeting I-12 at Hammond, I-55 transitions into a forested freeway to McComb and Brookhaven in southern Mississippi.

I-55 Viaduct at Ruddock, LA

I-55/U.S. 51 southbound on the viaduct system at Ruddock, Louisiana. Photo by Peter Johnson (02/23/20).

Reaching the capital city of Jackson, Interstate 55 briefly joins Interstate 20 to turn east across the Pearl River. The freeway resumes a northward heading east of Downtown to Ridgeland, Madison and the north Jackson suburbs. Again a rural freeway, I-55 continues to Grenada, Senatobia, Hernando and the southern periphery of the Memphis metropolitan area.

As of May 6, 2008, Interstate 55 combines with I-69 from north of Hernando to the city of Memphis and the exchange with I-240. I-69 follows I-240 north to Downtown Memphis while I-55 swings westward to span the Mississippi River via the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge. Along this stretch is a cloverleaf interchange with Crump Boulevard that includes a turn off to stay on (TOTSO) mainline movement for I-55. Construction originally anticipated through 2019, and later forecast for Winter 2021, addresses this substandard connection.

Interstate 40 combines with I-55 for two miles at West Memphis. The two trucking corridors partition with I-55 turning north to Marion and Blytheville and the Missouri state line. Remaining rural, Interstate 55 progresses northward to Hayti (I-155), New Madrid, and Sikeston (I-57). Some through traffic bound for Chicago diverts via Interstate 57 while I-55 stays west of the Mississippi to St. Louis.

Beyond Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Festus, all served by Interstate 55 business loops, travelers along I-55 enter the St. Louis suburbs to Mehlville and the exchange with I-270 and I-255. These routes double as bypasses and commuter routes while I-55 stays north into Downtown St. Louis.

Crossing the Mississippi River for a second time, I-55 joins I-64/U.S. 40 from near the Gateway Arch into East St. Louis. There I-70 ties in from the 2014-opened Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge to replace I-64 as the northbound counterpart of I-55 to Troy.

The remainder of Interstate 55 through Illinois replaced U.S. 66. Most stretches of Old U.S. 66 are marked as an historical route, and stretches through both Springfield and Lincoln double as Business Loop I-55. The freeway overlaps with Interstate 72 through the capital city of Springfield before angling northeast to Lincoln, Bloomington and Normal.

Interstate 74 combines with I-55 to the west of Bloomington while I-39 ends from the north at Normal. Interstate 55 continues northeast from there to Joliet (I-80) and the Stephenson Expressway leading into Chicago. The northern terminus of I-55 is in Downtown Chicago at Lake Shore Drive (U.S. 41) near the sprawling McCormick Place, the city’s convention center.

Parallel U.S. Routes

Interstate 55 parallels U.S. 51 from New Orleans north to Memphis, then follows U.S. 61 from Memphis north to St. Louis. Between Memphis and St. Louis, U.S. 51 remains east of the Mississippi River, while Interstate 55 stays west of the river. Once at St. Louis, I-55 replaced U.S. 66 all the way to Chicago. U.S. 51 and Interstate 55 meet again at Bloomington-Normal, and U.S. 51 north of that city has been largely subsumed by Interstate 39.


The first section of Interstate 55 approved for construction in Mississippi was a 27-mile segment through Hernando, Coldwater and Senatobia. The contract was advertised in late 1956, and groundbreaking for construction followed in July 1957 in Coldwater.2

Interstate 55 was completed between Exit 49 (U.S. 61), north of New Madrid, Missouri, to U.S. 60 at Sikeston, Missouri on September 1, 1960. An eight mile stretch of freeway opened that day, tieing in with a preexisting seven mile stretch.3 Further north in St. Louis, Interstate 55 was completed between the Jefferson County line and downtown by 1967.4

Interstate 55 in Chicago, Illinois, follows the Stevenson Expressway. This freeway, which was originally known as the Southwest Expressway, extended from the Cook-DuPage County Line northeast to Interstates 90 & 94 (Dan Ryan Expressway). The expressway opened to traffic on September 1, 1964. Exactly one year later, the Southwest Expressway was renamed the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway on September 1, 1965, in memory of the former Illinois state governor. The last section of I-55 completed in Chicago was the short extension from I-90/94 (Dan Ryan Expressway) east to U.S. 41 (Lake Shore Drive) in 1966.5,6

Route Information

  • North End – Chicago, IL

  • South End – La Place, LA

  • Branch Routes – 5

  • Total Mileage – 964.25


Louisiana – 65.81

  • Cities – Hammond
  • JunctionsI-10 I-12

Mississippi – 290.41

  • Cities – McComb, Brookhaven, Jackson, Canton, Winona, Southaven
  • JunctionsI-20 I-220 I-69 I-269

Tennessee – 12.28

  • Cities – Memphis

  • JunctionsI-69 I-240

Arkansas – 72.22*

  • Cities – West Memphis, Blytheville

  • JunctionsI-40 I-555

Missouri – 210.45#

  • Cities – Sikeston, Cape Girardeau, Perryville, St. Louis

  • JunctionsI-155 I-57 I-270 I-255 I-44 I-64

Illinois – 313.08+

  • Cities – East Saint Louis, Edwardsville, Litchfield, Springfield, Lincoln, Bloomington, Pontiac, Joliet, Chicago

  • JunctionsI-64 I-70 I-255 I-270 I-72 I-155 I-74 I-39 I-80 I-355 I-294 I-90 I-94

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 2.22 miles on I-40, # – 1.00 mile on I-44, 0.40 miles on I-64,+ – 2.70 miles on I-64. 16.00 miles on I-70

I-55 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

Location Vehicles per day
Kentwood, LA 9,898
Hammond, LA 58,793
Memphis, TN 107,686
Northern Mississippi - 1967
Interstate 55 corridor between Jackaon and Grenada, Mississippi, 1967

The portion of I-55 between MS 16 north of Canton (Exit 124) and Vaiden (Exit 174) was the last section of Interstate 55 opened in Mississippi. It was completed in 1973.7

Southeast Missouri - 1965
Southeastern Missouri – 1965 Missouri Official Highway Map

Through southeastern Missouri, Interstate 55 was completed initially at the Arkansas state line and from Sikeston north to Jackson.

I-55 north at I-72/US 36 - Springfield, IL
Interstate 72 east combines with I-55 north for 5.1 miles around the southeast side of Springfield, Illinois. The overlap is not acknowledged on the FHWA Route Log and Finder List. 05/24/18

North End US 41 (Lake Shore Drive) – Chicago, Illinois

I-55 North at US 41 Lake Shore Dr

I-55 north at US 41/Lake Shore Dr - Chicago, IL

Exit 293A departs from I-55 north to Cermak Road and Chinatown. The Stevenson Expressway continues 1.25 miles further to U.S. 41 (Lake Shore Drive) by McCormick Place, Chicago’s convention center. 09/03/05

I-55 north at US 41/Lake Shore Dr - Chicago, IL

I-55 navigates through an S-curve below the freeway spur linking the Dan Ryan Expressway with Cermak Road. The ensuing exit joins the Stevenson Expressway with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. 09/03/05

I-55 north at US 41/Lake Shore Dr - Chicago, IL

The final reassurance shield for north Interstate 55 stands beyond the Cermak Road exit below the Rock Island Railroad overpass. 09/03/05

I-55 north at US 41/Lake Shore Dr - Chicago, IL

State Street passes over Interstate 55 on the half mile approach to U.S. 41 (Lake Shore Drive). Exit 293D leaves in a quarter mile for McCormick Place. 09/03/05

I-55 north at US 41/Lake Shore Dr - Chicago, IL

Construction in 2016/17 rebuild the directional T interchange with U.S. 41 (Lake Shore Drive) so that two lanes now connect with the route south along the Lake Michigan shoreline. 09/03/05

I-55 north at US 41/Lake Shore Dr - Chicago, IL

Advancing east along side McCormick Place toward the flyovers for U.S. 41. While Lake Shore Drive travels at-grade within the vicinity of Interstate 55, U.S. 41 upgrades to a freeway to the north of Downtown Chicago. 09/03/05

I-55 north at US 41/Lake Shore Dr - Chicago, IL

U.S. 41 (Lake Shore Drive) heads north from I-55 to Soldier Field (home of the Chicago Bears), the world-renowned Shedd Aquarium, and Grant Park. All trucks are required to take the southbound ramp toward the Douglas and Hyde Park neighborhoods. 09/03/05

I-55 north at US 41/Lake Shore Dr - Chicago, IL

End shields for I-55 were posted along the previous flyover ramps to U.S. 41. A new assembly appears at the gore point separating traffic as of 2017. Lake Shore Drive was once proposed as part of an Interstate 494 downtown loop. The highway never came to fruition as it would have involved serious alteration of the Lake Michigan waterfront. 09/03/05

US 41 Lake Shore Dr – South at I-55

US 41/Lake Shore Dr south at I-55 - Chicago, IL

One mile ahead of the directional T interchange with Interstate 55 (Stevenson Expressway) on U.S. 41 (Lake Shore Drive) south. 09/03/05

US 41/Lake Shore Dr south at I-55 - Chicago, IL

A diamond interchange connects Lake Shore Drive with 18th Street and Museum Campus Drive a half mile north of Interstate 55. 09/03/05

US 41/Lake Shore Dr south at I-55 - Chicago, IL

U.S. 41 (Lake Shore Drive) runs along side McCormick Place Convention Center to the off-ramp for Interstate 55 (Stevenson Expressway) south. The Stevenson Expressway generally parallels old U.S. 66 en route toward Joliet. The initial interchanges along I-55 connect with State Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94). Photo by Chris Patriarca (05/25/03).

US 41 Lake Shore Dr – North at I-55

US 41/Lake Shore Dr north at I-55 - Chicago, IL

U.S. 41 (Lake Shore Drive) northbound passes under the 35th Street Pedestrian Bridge one mile ahead of Interstate 55’s northern terminus. Photo by Dan Garnell (08/28/03).

US 41/Lake Shore Dr north at I-55 - Chicago, IL

A two-lane flyover leads motorists from Lake Shore Drive north to Interstate 55 (Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway) southbound. The control city is St. Louis, although I-55 connects to Joliet and several downstate cities, such as Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln and Springfield. 09/03/05

I-55 South

I-55 south at US 41 - Chicago, IL

A pair of assemblies formally marked the southbound beginning of Interstate 55 within the exchange at Lake Shore Drive. A small guide sign replaced these by 2016. 09/03/05

South End I-10 US-51 – La Place, Louisiana

I-55 South at I-10 US 51

I-55 south at I-10/US 51 - LaPlace, LA

Six miles separate Rudduck from the southbound split of U.S. 51 from Interstate 55 to LaPlace. Photo by Peter Johnson (02/23/20).

I-55 south at I-10/US 51 - LaPlace, LA

Interstate 55 south defaults onto I-10 east to New Orlenas. A Breezewood connection utilizes U.S. 51 south via Exit 1 for I-10 west to Baton Rouge. Photo by Peter Johnson (02/23/20).

I-55 south at I-10/US 51 - LaPlace, LA

Entering the half diamond interchange with U.S. 51 south and Old U.S. 51 north along Interstate 55. I-10 travels ten miles east to Kenner and along the north side of LaPlace nearby. Photo by Peter Johnson (02/23/20).

I-55 south at I-10/US 51 - LaPlace, LA

Taking the two lane ramp to I-10 east toward Kenner, motorists join a viaduct system over southern reaches of Lake Pontchartrain and the Bonnet Carre Spillway. Photo by Peter Johnson (02/23/20).

I-10 West at I-55

I-10 west at I-55 - LaPlace, LA

Crossing over southwestern reaches of Lake Pontchartain, Interstate 10 advances two miles west to Exit 210 with I-55 north. Interstate 55 commences along a viaduct, continuing the stretch of elevated highway along I-10 another 23 miles to Pontchatoula. 05/09/15

I-10 west at I-55 - LaPlace, LA

Advancing west over wetland areas, I-10 approaches the elevated wye interchange (Exit 210) with Interstate 55 north. U.S. 51 combines with I-55 northward from La Place to Ponchatoula. The parallel old alignment remains drivable. 05/09/15

I-10 west at I-55 - LaPlace, LA

Two lanes separate from I-10 west for Interstate 55 north to Hammond (I-12) and Jackson, Mississippi. The succeeding off-ramp connects with U.S. 51 southwest 3.3 miles to its end at U.S. 61 in LaPlace. 05/09/15

I-10 East at I-55 US 51

I-10 east at I-55/US 51 - LaPlace, LA

Interstate 10 passes just north of suburban areas of LaPlace to a diamond interchange (Exit 209) with U.S. 51. U.S. 51 extends northeast from U.S. 61 along an arterial route to adjacent ramps with I-55. 05/09/15

I-10 east at I-55/US 51 - LaPlace, LA

Exit 209 represents the last services for either I-10 east or I-55 north for a substantial distance as both routes elevate across areas around Lake Pontchartrain. U.S. 51 combines with Interstate 55 north for 25 miles to Pontchatoula. 05/09/15

I-10 east at I-55/US 51 - LaPlace, LA

There is no direct access from Interstate 10 east to I-55 north. Instead motorists must navigate along U.S. 51 north from Exit 209 to make the connection. 05/09/15

US 51 north at I-55 - LaPlace, LA

U.S. 51 leads north from the ramps at I-10 a short distance to combine with Interstate 55 toward Hammond. Old U.S. 51 parallels the east side of the elevated freeway through Ruddock and Manchac. 05/09/15

I-55 North

I-55 north at I-10 - LaPlace, LA

The first confirming marker for Interstate 55 north appears along the ramp from I-10 west at Exit 210. 11/20/08

I-55 South End Throwback

Previous overheads for Interstate 10 and U.S. 51 along I-55 south. Photo by Chris Patriarca (05/13/03).


  1. Tennessee Interstate System at 50: Facts and Trivia
  2. Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System: Previous Interstate Facts of the Day by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
  3. “New Highway Stretch Open.” The Southeast Missourian, September 2, 1960.
  4. Vintage St. Louis, online posting. July 14, 2013.
  5. Chicago Timeline: 1964 Southwest Expressway Opened; September 1, 1965–Renamed Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway, Chicago Public Library, updated August 1997
  6. Encyclopedia of Chicago: Expressways by Dennis McClendon of the Chicago Historical Society
  7. Interstate Highway 55, Adam Froehlig.

Page updated May 5, 2020.