Interstate 55

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"I-55" redirects here. For the Japanese submarines, see Japanese submarine I-55.

Interstate 55 marker

Interstate 55
Route information
Length: 964.25 mi[1] (1,551.81 km)
Major junctions
South end: I‑10 in Laplace, LA
  I‑20 in Jackson, MS
I‑40 in West Memphis, AR
I-44 in St. Louis, MO
I-64 in St. Louis, MO
I-70 in East St. Louis, IL
I-80 near Joliet, IL
I-90 / I-94 in Chicago, IL
North end: US 41 in Chicago, IL
Highway system

Interstate 55 (I-55) is an Interstate Highway in the central United States. Its odd number indicates that it is a north–south Interstate Highway. I-55 travels from LaPlace, Louisiana at Interstate 10 to Chicago at U.S. Route 41 (Lake Shore Drive), at McCormick Place.

The section of I-55 between Chicago and St. Louis was built as an alternate route for U.S. Highway 66. It crosses the Mississippi River twice: once at Memphis, Tennessee, and again at St. Louis, Missouri.


When it was realized that a national highway system was needed, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 provided for a highway replacing the old Route 66 which I-55 filled. Interstate 55 was originally constructed in the 1970s, to extend a section of Route 66 between Interstate 294 and Gardner which had been converted into a freeway and had Interstate signage installed in 1960. During the rest of the 1960s, I-55 was built in portions throughout Illinois eventually connecting St. Louis to Chicago where it became the fourth direct route between them. As it goes southwards, most of the Interstate was purpose built during the 1960s and 70s. The entire length was completed in 1979.

Route description[edit]

  mi[1] km
LA 65.81 105.91
MS 290.41 467.37
TN 12.28 19.76
AR 72.22 116.22
MO 210.45 338.69
IL 293.80 472.72
Total 964.25 1,551.81


In Louisiana, I-55 runs nearly 66 miles (106 km) from south to north, from Interstate 10 near Laplace (25 miles (40 km) west of New Orleans) to the Mississippi state line near Kentwood, Louisiana. Approximately 1/3 of the distance consists of the Manchac Swamp bridge, a nearly 23 mile causeway, often cited as the third-longest viaduct in the world.


In Mississippi, I-55 runs 290.5 miles (467.5 km) from the Louisiana border near Osyka, Mississippi to Southaven on the Tennessee border, just south of Memphis. Noteworthy cities and towns that I-55 passes through or close by to are McComb, Jackson, and Grenada. This highway parallels U.S. 51 in its path roughly through the center of Mississippi.

The Mississippian section of I-55 is defined in the Mississippi Code § 65-3-3.

I-44/55/64/70 on one highway sign in downtown St. Louis

I-55 in this area is sometimes called the Mississippi Delta Highway because of its proximity to the Mississippi River.[citation needed] The eight miles (13 km) from Hernando to the Tennessee state line coincide with the newer Interstate 69.


I-55 in Tennessee lies entirely within the city of Memphis, passing through the southern and western parts of the city and providing a bypass of downtown for motorists who do not want to take Interstates I-240 and I-40 through downtown to cross the Mississippi River. The western portion of this highway, which passes through an industrialized section of the city, contains numerous low-clearance bridges, and also a very tight 270 degree cloverleaf turn northbound at Crump Boulevard. The Tennessee Department of Transportation currently has an Interchange Improvement Project for this portion. Heavy truck traffic heading to and from Arkansas in this area is hence directed to detour via I-240 and I-40.

For the Tennessee stretch of the Interstate, the usual national freeway speed limit of 70 mph (113 kph) is reduced to 65 mph (105 kph).[2]

I-255 was the former numbering of I-240 between I-55 and I-40 through midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

I-55 splits from I-40 here in West Memphis, Arkansas and heads north toward Jonesboro and the Missouri border.


I-55 enters Arkansas from Tennessee as it crosses the Mississippi River on the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge. It overlaps I-40 for approximately 2.8 miles (4.5 km) in West Memphis. After separating from I-40, I-55 turns northward and runs with US 61, US 63, and US 64 until US 64 exits in through Marion.[3] I-55/US 61/US 63 continue north through Crittenden County through rural farms of the Arkansas delta, including an interchange with Future I-555/US 63 in Turrell. I-55 passes through Blytheville, where it has a junction with Highway 18 before entering Missouri.[4] I-55 parallels U.S. 61 in its path through Arkansas, which it continues to do after crossing into Missouri.


In Missouri, I-55 runs from the southeastern part of the state, at the Arkansas border, to St. Louis. In this city, Interstate 44 merges in with I-55, and then Interstate 64 (on the Poplar Street Bridge), when crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois.

Among the cities and towns served by I-55 in Missouri are Sikeston, Cape Girardeau, and St. Louis.

As noted above, I-55 parallels US Highway 61 for most of its course through Missouri, from the Arkansas border to the Southern portion of St. Louis County.


Northern terminus at Lake Shore Drive/U.S. Route 41 in Chicago.

I-55 largely follows the 1940 alignment of the former U.S. Route 66, now Historic U.S. Route 66 / the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, through Illinois. Entering Illinois from the south, I-55 near the I-270/I-70 split is referred to as the Paul Simon Freeway, named for former U.S. Senator Paul Simon (D), who began his political career in this region. Further north, between the St. Louis area and Springfield, I-55 is named the Vince Demuzio Expressway for former Illinois State Senator Vince Demuzio (D-Carlinville). I-55 parallels the third (1940) alignment of U.S. Route 66 in Illinois from East St. Louis to Joliet, Illinois, passing around the state capital of Springfield and likewise around the metro areas of Bloomington-Normal and Joliet. In the Chicago area, between the I-80 interchange near Joliet and I-55's eastern terminus at Lake Shore Drive/U.S. 41 in Chicago, the expressway is referred to as the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway in honor of former Illinois governor Adlai E. Stevenson II (D), who was also the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

When this expressway was being planned during the 1960s, the Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, Jr., made an effort to have the expressway routed close to the larger city of Peoria instead of the straighter route through the Bloomington-Normal area. This ultimately failed plan was ridiculed in the press as the so-called "Kerner Curve." The need for an expressway connection between Springfield and Peoria was later filled by the spur route Interstate 155. This also connects with nearby Lincoln and Morton and forms a triangle between the three population centers in Central Illinois.[5]

Proposed expansion[edit]

In 2009, officials in Green Bay, Wisconsin began a campaign to have U.S. Route 41 in that area designated as part of Interstate 55, given that a section of U.S. 41 in Wisconsin was in the process of being rebuilt as a federal interstate highway. Some Green Bay area officials thought that designating U.S. 41 as I-55 would have brought additional attention to that area. However, the idea was written off by critics as a nonstarter and a publicity stunt because that would have meant that two different segments of I-55 would have existed disconnected by a break of more than a hundred miles, an untenable notion as that ran counter to how interstates are traditionally designated. Moreover, building a new superhighway to connect the proposed Wisconsin segment with the eastern terminus of I-55 in Chicago was never contemplated, nor would it ever have been approved in the densely populated sections of U.S. 41 through the city of Chicago and its North Shore suburbs. The main alternative was designating the Green Bay area section of U.S. 41 as a spur of I-43.[6] But the issue became moot soon enough: as of December 2012, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Federal Highway Administration approved the renaming of the upgraded Wisconsin section of U.S. 41 (between Russell Road just south of the Illinois-Wisconsin State Line and Green Bay) as Interstate 41.

Major intersections[edit]

Auxiliary routes[edit]


  1. ^ a b Staff (December 31, 2013). "Table 1: Main Routes of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways As of December 31, 2013". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Getting Around". City Visitors Guide. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (January 2, 2007) (PDF). General Highway Map, Crittenden County, Arkansas (Map). 1:62500. Cartography by Planning and Research Division. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
  4. ^ Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (January 11, 2010) (PDF). General Highway Map, Mississippi County, Arkansas (Map). 1:62500. Cartography by Planning and Research Division. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
  5. ^ Unknown (2000-01-01). "Despite dead-end for I-55's Kerner Curve, I-74 changed area forever". Peoria Journal-Star. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  6. ^ Green Bay Press Gazette, February 8, 2009

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing

Browse numbered routes
MS 53 MS MS 57
US 54 MO US 56
IL 54 IL IL 56