Interstate 55

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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.

History[edit]

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]

Lengths
  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

Louisiana[edit]

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.

Mississippi[edit]

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.

Tennessee[edit]

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.

Arkansas[edit]

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.

Missouri[edit]

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.

Illinois[edit]

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

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.[5]

In the Chicago area, the expressway is referred to as the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway in honor of Adlai E. Stevenson II.

Proposed expansion[edit]

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.[6] 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.

Major intersections[edit]

Auxiliary routes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Route Log and Finder List — Interstate System: Table 1". FHWA. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 
  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. http://www.arkansashighways.com/maps/Counties/County%20PDFs/CrittendenCounty.pdf. 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. http://www.arkansashighways.com/maps/Counties/County%20PDFs/MississippiCounty.pdf. 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 02-08-09

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