Interstate 269 is the outer beltway for Memphis, Tennessee. Beginning in Hernando, Mississippi, I-269 extends eastward from the exchange joining I-55 with the western leg of I-69 to Tunica. Traveling east along side Mississippi 304, the beltway meets Interstate 22 and U.S. 78 at the town of Byhalia on the Marshall County line.
Turning north, Interstate 269 crosses into Tennessee ahead of U.S. 72 and the town of Collierville before overtaking SR 385 at Bill Morris Parkway. I-269 superseded SR 385 northward to Interstate 40 in the town of Arlington. The remainder of the SR 385 beltway west to U.S. 51 at Millington is a part of future I-269, as the connection with Interstate 69 north from Memphis is incomplete.
Interstate 269 was first signed along the 2.6-mile segment between Mississippi 302 and the Tennessee state line south of Collierville. The route north from there to Interstate 40, a distance of 19.176 miles, was approved as Interstate 269 by AASHTO on May 24, 2016.29
The freeway was completed west from Mississippi 302 to I-22 / U.S. 78 and Mississippi 305 on December 5, 2017.30 The remainder west to I-55/69 opened to motorists following a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 26, 2018.31
Tennessee State Route 385 preexisted Interstate 269 along the Memphis beltway system between Collierville and Millington. The south leg of SR 385 along Bill Morris Parkway between Interstate 240 and Collierville is built to Interstate standards but is not a part or planned for inclusion into the Interstate Highway System.
For a time prior to the I-269 designation, the beltway route was considered for the alignment of Interstate 69. However, city of Memphis officials prefered I-69 to pass directly through the city, so the bypass was eventually renumbered. The beltway was also briefly referred to as Interstate 669 on misc.transport.road, but without a verfied citation.
Bill Morris Parkway
Conceived in 19692 and originally named the Nonconnah Parkway, for the creek which it parallels, Bill Morris Parkway constitutes a suburban freeway branching southeast from Interstate 240 in Memphis to U.S. 72 in Collierville. The contract for the first portion of Nonconnah Parkway was awarded on August 3, 1990 at a cost of $44.7-million.1. This focused on building the westernmost 4.4 miles of roadway, from I-240 to Ridgeway Road in East Memphis. Work on the second phase was delayed as local officials shifted the proposed route southward from Winchester Road to a parallel alignment along Nonconnah Creek. Cost increases associated with land acquisition were cited as the rational for relocating the future roadway.2
State officials signed off on the new SR 385 alignment for phase two by July 1991.3 Work commenced on the $45.1-million segment in June 1992, which extended the freeway east of Kirby Parkway at Riverdale. Phase three started in December 1992, with a one mile stretch east to Winchester.4 Ensuing construction proceeded with the award of an $11.3-million contract for 3.4 miles of freeway between Hacks Cross Road and Bailey Station.5
Controversies also involved the path of the easternmost segment of SR 385. The fourth phase of Nonconnah Parkway was resisted by residents in Collierville who disapproved of a freeway backing up to their homes. State officials shifted the route northward from along side Shelby Drive to instead straddle the south side of Nonconnah Creek. Increasing the costs by 12%, the 4.8 mile freeway between Bailey Station and Quinn Roads included the condemnation of ten homes.6 Work ultimately was broken into smaller portions, with construction beginning in June 1997.7
Additional delays pushed back the Fall 1993 completion date of the western leg of Nonconnah Parkway when the original contractor walked away in December 1992 and defaulted on the job in June 1993.8 A new contractor opened the eastbound lanes on December 23, 1993, with the westbound lanes completed by January 15, 1994.9 Delayed due to bad weather, another 2.9 miles of SR 385 were completed as phase two opened to traffic following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on December 22, 1995.10
A subsequent ribbon cutting ceremony took place on December 29, 1997 at the Riverdale Road interchange, where SR 385 ended from the west. Completion of this segment opened Nonconnah Parkway east to Bailey Station. Total costs for the 6.7-mile stretch were $91-million.11
The next change for Nonconnah Parkway took place on February 26, 1997, when the state legislature approved renaming the freeway as Bill Morris Parkway. Morris served as Shelby County Sheriff and was the mayor of Shelby County for 16 years.12
Final work on Bill Morris Parkway added two miles between Bailey Station Road and Byhalia Road in Collierville by mid October 1999.13 An additional two miles were completed on November 21, 2000. This rounded out the parkway east to U.S. 72, leaving the connection with the planned Collierville-Arlington Parkway leading north to I-40.14
Governor Winfield Dunn Parkway
Tennessee State Route 385 north from Collierville to Arlington started with a $23-million contract awarded in December 2002 for a 2.7-mile section from the end of Bill Morris Parkway at U.S. 72 to SR 57 (Poplar Avenue). This work ran simultaneously with construction of the four mile, $18.98-million portion leading south from Interstate 40 to Collierville Arlington Road, south of U.S. 64 at Eads.15
The 7.7-mile gap between these two segments included a 3,200-foot long bridge over the Wolf River. Costing $12 million, changes to the bridge design extended the Wolf River span by more than four times over what was initially planned. The changes were necessary to bridge environmentally sensitive wetlands associated with the waterway.16
The extension of Bill Morris Parkway to SR 57 at Piperton opened to traffic on August 23, 2007.17 Following quickly was the opening on September 4, 2007 of the Eads to Arlington portion, extending SR 385 south 2.48 miles from I-40 to U.S. 64.18
Succeeding construction south from U.S. 64 to Macon Road (SR 193) cost $14 million and was completed on June 15, 2009. This left a 3.6-mile stretch of SR 385 from Macon Road to Raleigh-LaGrange Drive and 3.7 miles of roadway to build from there to SR 57.19
Work of the final $74-million phase of SR 385, between SR 57 and SR 193 (Macon Road), ran from 2009 to November 22, 2013. The road was formally designated as the Governor Winfield Dunn Parkway during the opening ceremony.20
An extension of Interstate 269 into Tennessee was submitted for review for the May 24, 2016 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering meeting. Ultimately approved, I-269 extended 19.176 miles into Tennessee from the Mississippi border northward to I-40 at Arlington. This replaced SR 385 along the same stretch.29
Paul W. Barret Parkway
The Environmental Impact Statement for Paul W. Barret Parkway, the north leg of SR 385 between Millington and Interstate 40, was approved by the Federal Highway Administration in 1975. The initial stretch to open extended east from U.S. 51 at Millington to Singleton Parkway (SR 204), with construction following to Austin Peay Highway (SR 14).21
State Route 385 (Paul W. Barret Parkway) east from U.S. 51 to U.S. 70 at Arlington was completed on September 25, 1998 at a cost of $66.9-million. Opening of this 12.7-mile stretch left just 1.6 miles of SR 385 southward to I-40 to build.22 Subsequent delays pushed completion of this $18.8-million segment back until December 1999.22
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) showed Interstate 269 following existing freeway routes in Tennessee (SR 385 and SR 205) but considered several alternate alignments in Mississippi (Central Alignment, B-1; Southern Alignment, B-2; and Northern Alignment, B-3).23 Preliminary citizen reaction indicated that the B-1 alignment for I-269 was preferred.24The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) eventually concurred and endorsed the Central Alignment on November 31, 2004.25
Construction for Interstate 269 through northern Mississippi presently was partioned in eight segments. Focusing on grading and bridge work by the eventual interchange between I-22 and 269, the first broke ground in July 2012. Fall 2012 construction followed west from U.S. 78 to MS 305 and from I-55 & 69 east to Getwell Road.
The first segment of I-269 finished in Mississippi was the five mile extension south from SR 385 to MS 302. It opened following a ribbon cutting ceremony held on October 23, 2015,28 and was signed as Interstate 269 within Marshall County. The remaining portions were forecast for completion in 2018.26 However a 14-mile section opened to traffic from MS 305 at Lewisburg to MS 302 east of Olive Branch following a ribbon cutting ceremony held on December 5, 2017. Officials anticipated that the $76 million roadway will spur economic development along the rural corridor.30
Construction progressed through 2018 on the nine mile link between I-55/69 and MS 305. Officials gathered at the Getwell Road interchange on the morning of October 26, 2018 to celebrate the beltway’s completion in Mississippi. The 27 mile portion of I-269 in the Magnolia State cost $640 million overall, and was $28 million under budget.31