|Length:||964.25 mi (1,551.81 km)|
|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 / I-70 in St. Louis, MO
I-80 near Joliet, IL
I-90 / I-94 in Chicago, IL
|North end:||US 41 in Chicago, IL|
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.
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, 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-55 in this area is sometimes called the Mississippi Delta Highway because of its proximity to the Mississippi River. 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.
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. 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. 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 both join Interstate 64 and Interstate 70 (on the Poplar Street Bridge), then cross 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.
I-55 largely follows the former U.S. 66 route through Illinois. Entering Illinois from the south, I-55, near the I-270/I-70 split, is referred to as the Paul Simon Freeway. This is in reference to the former U.S. Senator Paul Simon 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 in reference to Illinois state politician Vince Demuzio. I-55 parallels the historic U.S. Route 66 from East St. Louis to Joliet, Illinois, passing around the state capital of Springfield, and also Bloomington.
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 "Kerner Curve". The transportation need of 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.
In the Chicago area, the expressway is referred to as the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway in honor of Adlai E. Stevenson II.
In 2009, officials in Green Bay, Wisconsin, began a campaign to have U.S. Route 41 in that area designated as I-55. A section of US 41 in Wisconsin is in the process of being rebuilt as an Interstate Highway. Some local officials in the Green Bay area think that designating US 41 as Interstate 55 would bring additional attention to that area. The main alternative is designating that highway as a spur of I-43. However, as of December 2012, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Federal Highway Administration approved the upgraded section of US 41 from Russell Road just south of the Illinois-Wisconsin State Line to Green Bay to become Interstate 41.
- South End: I-10 – Laplace, Louisiana
- I-12 – Hammond, Louisiana
- I-20 – Jackson, Mississippi (concurrent for two miles (3 km))
- I-220 – Ridgeland, Mississippi
- I-69 – Hernando, Mississippi
- I-240 – Memphis, Tennessee
- I-40 – West Memphis, Arkansas (concurrent for three miles.)
- I-155 in Hayti, Missouri
- I-57 – Sikeston
- I-270 & I-255 at Mehlville, Missouri, just south of St. Louis, Missouri (both intersections at the same interchange)
- I-44 – St. Louis, Missouri
- I-64 – St. Louis. These two highways stay the same across the Mississippi River to East St. Louis, Illinois.
- I-70 – St. Louis. These two highways stay the same until an exit near Troy, Illinois.
- I-255 just west of Collinsville, Illinois
- I-270 east of Glen Carbon, Illinois
- I-72 in Springfield, Illinois (concurrent for six miles)
- I-155 west of Lincoln, Illinois
- I-74 in Bloomington (concurrent for six miles)
- I-39 in Bloomington
- I-80 in Joliet, Illinois
- I-355 in Bolingbrook, Illinois
- I-294 in Burr Ridge, Illinois
- I-90 & I-94 (the Dan Ryan Expressway) in Chicago
- North end: US 41 (Lake Shore Drive) in Chicago
- Spur to Jonesboro, Arkansas – Interstate 555 (I-555), under construction
- Caruthersville, Missouri to Dyersburg, Tennessee – Interstate 155
- St. Louis, Missouri, area – Interstate 255 (I-255)
- Spur to Peoria, Illinois – Interstate 155
- In the southwestern suburbs of Chicago – Interstate 355 (I-355)
- "Route Log and Finder List — Interstate System: Table 1". FHWA. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
- "Getting Around". City Visitors Guide. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- 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. http://www.arkansashighways.com/maps/Counties/County%20PDFs/CrittendenCounty.pdf. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- 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. http://www.arkansashighways.com/maps/Counties/County%20PDFs/MississippiCounty.pdf. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
- 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.
- Green Bay Press Gazette 02-08-09
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Interstate 55.|
|Browse numbered routes|
|← MS 53||MS||MS 57 →|
|← US 54||MO||US 56 →|
|← IL 54||IL||IL 56 →|