U.S. Route 51 in Tennessee

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U.S. Route 51 marker

U.S. Route 51
State Route 3
Route information
Maintained by TDOT
Length: 135.90 mi[1] (218.71 km)
Major junctions
South end: US 51.svg US 51 at the Mississippi state line

I-55.svg I-55 at Memphis
I-240.svg I-240 at Memphis
I-40.svg I-40 at Memphis

I-155.svg I-155 in Dyersburg
North end: Purchase Parkway.svgUS 51.svg Purchase Parkway/US 51 at Kentucky State Line
Counties: Shelby, Tipton, Lauderdale, Dyer, Obion
Highway system
SR-2 SR-4

U.S. Route 51, mostly overlapped by the unsigned State Route 3 (SR 3), is a north–south state highway in the U.S. state of Tennessee, that is 135.9 miles (218.71 km) long.[2] It begins in Shelby County and ends in Obion County. The SR 3 designation is seen largely on mileposts.

The two places where US 51 and SR 3 differ are in Memphis, where US 51 has been moved to Danny Thomas Boulevard (State Route 1 / State Route 4), while SR 3 remains on the one-way pair of 2nd and 3rd Streets, and in South Fulton, where US 51 crosses the state line on State Route 215 to the Purchase Parkway, while SR 3 remains on the old road, now U.S. Route 45.[1]

Route description[edit]

US 51 enters Tennessee at Memphis and runs north through the cities of Millington, Munford, Atoka, Brighton, Covington, Henning, Ripley, Halls, Dyersburg, Troy, Union City, and South Fulton.

Routings of US 51 and SR 3 in Memphis

This highway crosses four interstate highways on its journey through the state and actually crosses Interstate 240 twice within the City of Memphis but interchanges with it only at Union Avenue. US 51 is the westernmost south–north United States Highway in the State of Tennessee. US 51 is an interstate standard facility[1] from Dyersburg to South of Troy and then resuming interstate standard status north of Union City to South Fulton. US 51 is a four-lane or larger facility throughout the state with some sections north of Dyersburg carrying a 70 mph (110 km/h) speed limit.

Near Henning is also the site of the Hatchie River Bridge collapse on April 1, 1989 that killed 8 motorists when 3 spans of the structure collapsed. The 54-year old bridge was 45 miles (72 km) north of Memphis and carried the northbound lanes of US 51. Its collapse was the result of pier scour and movement of the river channel.[3][4]

US 51 carries the Tennessee Scenic Parkway designation from its junction with SR 385 in Millington to SR 104 in Dyersburg and also carries the Great River Road designation from US 64/US 70/US 79 in Memphis to SR 88 in Halls.[1]

Counties traversed (south to north)[edit]

"Welcome to Memphis" sign on US 51 (2008)

US 51 traverses the counties shown in the table below.[2]

Counties traversed by US 51
County miles kilometers
Shelby 33.1 53.2
Tipton 22.2 35.6
Lauderdale 25.0 40.2
Dyer 24.7 39.7
Obion 30.9 49.7


Historic two-lane alignments of this highway from Henning north are represented by State Route 209, a portion of State Route 88, State Route 210, State Route 211, a portion of State Route 183 and State Route 184. From Memphis to Henning, most of the original two lane road was upgraded to four lane expressway in the 1960s.


Most of US 51 north of Dyersburg is expected to be upgraded as part of future Interstate 69. Plans currently call for Interstate 69 to run along the existing US 51 freeway from Dyersburg to Troy and from Union City to South Fulton. This section is part of SIU 7 for Interstate 69 and will require few changes beyond resigning the existing highway, however, a bypass route around Troy and Union City will need to be built before this section of future Interstate 69 is completed.[5][6]

Major intersections[edit]

County Location Mile[7] Intersects Notes
US 51.svg Secondary Tennessee 3.svg (unsigned) begins at Mississippi State Line. SR 3 overlaps for 11.32 miles (18.22 km).
Shelby Memphis 1.80 SR-175 (East Shelby Drive)
4.70 I-55 - St. Louis, Jackson
9.31 US-78 (Lamar Avenue) / SR-4 (unsigned)
9.90 US-64 (Union Avenue) / US-70 / US-72 east / US-79 north Begin US 64, US 70, US 79 overlap. SR 3 changes to primary designation and continues northbound overlap with US 51.
10.15 I-240
11.32 US-64 west (Danny Thomas Blvd.) / US-70 / US-79 south / SR-1 End US 64, US 70, US 79 overlap. SR 1 overlap begins.
12.12 I-40 - Little Rock, Nashville
12.46 SR-1 east (North Parkway) / SR-4 north (unsigned) Unsigned SR 1 overlap ends. Unsigned SR 4 overlap begins at North Parkway.
12.49 SR-14 (Jackson Avenue)
US 51.svg Tennessee 3.svg (unsigned) continues northbound. Unsigned SR 3 changes to primary designation and resumes overlap for 121.77 miles (195.97 km).
13.05 SR-3 south (Chelsea Avenue)(unsigned) SR 4 overlap ends. SR 3 changes to primary designation and resumes overlap with US 51.
15.51 SR-300 east (unsigned) to I-40 Eastbound Entrance. Highway is signed as "To I-40".
18.37 SR-388 north (Watkins Street) To Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
Millington 26.71 SR-385 east (Paul Barret Parkway)
27.73 SR-205 – Millington
Tipton 35.24 SR-178 north – Munford
37.71 SR-206 (Atoka-Idaville Road)
Covington 47.24 SR-59 east – Somerville Unsigned SR 59 overlap begins.
49.28 SR-59 west Unsigned SR 59 overlap ends.
50.39 SR-384 south (Industrial Road)
Lauderdale 56.50 SR-209 north – Henning
Henning 58.06 SR-87 To Fort Pillow State Park
Ripley 61.99 SR-19 east – Brownsville Begin hidden SR 19 overlap.
63.68 SR-19 west – Ashport End hidden SR 19 overlap.
64.59 SR-208 south – Ripley
72.03 SR-180 south – Gates, Nutbush
75.20 SR-88 – Halls
Dyer Dyersburg 82.22 To SR-210 (Unionville Road)
84.26 Business plate.svg
US-51 north (South Main Avenue) / SR-211 north (unsigned)
86.57 SR-104 (Forrest Street)
88.53 SR-78 (Lake Road) – Tiptonville To Reelfoot Lake State Park
90.25 Business plate.svg
US-51 south (St. John Avenue) / SR-211 (unsigned)
Begin hidden SR 211 overlap.
Limited access freeway begins. US 51.svg Tennessee 3.svg (unsigned) exits and continues northbound. Secondary Tennessee 211.svg continues northbound on old highway.
91.85 US-412 east / SR-20 (unsigned) / SR-211 north – Jackson, Newbern End hidden SR 211 overlap. Begin US 412 overlap.
92.24 I-155 west / US-412 west - St. Louis End US 412 overlap.
97.05 SR-77 east – Newbern, Yorkville
104.32 SR-105 east – Trimble
Obion 108.29 SR-183 – Obion
Limited Access Freeway ends. US 51.svg Tennessee 3.svg (unsigned) continue northbound.
113.56 SR-183 west
Troy 114.82 SR-21 west – Tiptonville Begin Unsigned SR 21 Overlap.
115.25 SR-21 east End Unsigned SR 21 Overlap.
Union City 122.01 SR-184 south Begin Unsigned SR 184 Overlap.
122.11 SR-431 south End Unsigned SR 184 Overlap.
122.94 SR-22 north / SR-5 – Tiptonville, Samburg Begin SR 22 Overlap.
To Reelfoot Lake State Park
125.51 SR-21
Limited Access Freeway begins. US 51.svg Tennessee 3.svg (unsigned) continue northbound. US 45W.svg northbound overlaps for 7.74 miles (12.46 km).
127.08 US-45W south / SR-22 south – Martin, Jackson End SR 22 Overlap.
134.41 SR-214 south (Ken-Tenn Road)
US 51.svg Tennessee 215.svg (unsigned) exits and continues northbound. US 45.svg Secondary Tennessee 3.svg (unsigned) continue northbound on old highway. US 45W.svg ends.
134.82 US-45 north / SR-3 (unsigned) / US-45E south / SR-215 (unsigned) – South Fulton, Martin End SR 3 Overlap. US 45 and unsigned SR 3 continue north. US 45E and unsigned SR 215 begin southbound overlap. US 51 and unsigned SR 215 begin northbound overlap.
To Julian M. Carroll Purchase Parkway
Tennessee 215.svg (unsigned) ends at Kentucky State Line. Purchase Parkway.svg US 51.svg overlap begins.