Interstate 22

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Interstate 22 (abbreviated I-22, originally Corridor X) is an interstate highway which connects Interstate 269 near Byhalia, Mississippi (just south of Memphis, Tennessee) with I-65 in Birmingham. It follows the U.S. Highway 78 corridor along its 176 mile route, passing through the cities of Holly Springs, New Albany, and Tupelo, Mississippi; and Hamilton and Jasper, Alabama.

History

Corridor X shields outside Jasper

The idea of improving the Birmingham to Memphis route to Interstate highway standards was first raised in the 1950s. Under the leadership of Representative Tom Bevill the project was approved for federal funding in 1978 as part of the Appalachian Development Highway System and was designated as "Corridor X".

After Bevill's death in 1995 an alternate route, "Corridor Y", which would connect Memphis to Atlanta and pass near Huntsville, was pushed by North Alabama leaders. Adamsville mayor Leland Adams lobbied the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce to fight for the Birmingham route because of ever-increasing traffic on U.S. 78. The chair of the Chamber's transportation committee, Joe Fuller, framed the issue for state legislators as a choice between benefiting Alabama or Tennessee. A "Corridor X Task Force" was organized at the Harbert Center in January 1997. Members included Adams, Jasper mayor Don Goetz, representatives of Walker College, the Walker County Chamber of Commerce, Walker Baptist Hospital, the Birmingham Regional Planning Commission, along with various business leaders and private citizens. The chambers' governmental affairs chair, Mary Alice Kenley organized a series of "fly-ins" to lobby in Washington D.C. which resulted in a major increases in developmental funding. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions and Representatives Robert Aderholt and Spencer Bachus communicated frequently with the group, which presented a strong, unified voice urging the project forward. Assurances that matching funds from the State would be forthcoming were made by Governors Fob James, Don Siegelman and Bob Riley.

Parts of the highway remained under construction for more than 37 years, with the final portions connecting its eastern end to I-65 completed in June 2016. In all, construction of the highway cost more than $1.4 billion.

Funding for the Alabama sections was made a priority for U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, who served as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Subcommittee. In 2004 Corridor X was designated as "Future Interstate 22" by Public Law No: 108-199, and the designation was made official on April 18, 2005. In Alabama signs indicating the future interstate designation were unveiled on that date.

The easternmost 65 miles of Interstate 22 in Alabama opened to traffic in a series of stages. The road reached Bevill Industrial Parkway southeast of Jasper on November 22, 2005. An additional 13 miles, from Walker County Highway 81 to Cherry Avenue near the city limits of Birmingham, including the interchange with U. S. Highway 78, opened in June 2007. A 20-mile section connecting the ends at Industrial Parkway and Cherry Avenue opened November 14, 2007. A segment between Cherry Avenue to a spot about 1/2 mile shy of I-65 near Fultondale, including an interchange with Coalburg Road, opened in December 2009, the last segment to open before the connection was made with I-65.

The 14-bridge interchange with I-65 was constructed between August 1, 2010 and June 20, 2016. At $168.6 million, was the most expensive single highway interchange in the state before the $400 million I-59/20 Bridge Replacement Project in downtown Birmingham was awarded beginning in early 2016. The contract, divided in to four separate phases, was awarded to Archer Western Contractors with an anticipated completion in October 2014. The project suffered numerous delays, however, due to weather and disputes between the contractor and ALDOT. Archer Western was assessed $2,000 per day (approximately $1.2 million) in liquidated damages for late completion beginning on October 22, 2014.

A project to widen I-65 to four lanes in either direction was also undertaken, beginning from just south of the I-22/I-65 interchange southward to the 16th Street interchange and then northward to the Walker Chapel Road exit. Although I-22 terminates at I-65, the mainline highway continues east beyond I-65 with a long pair of ramps to US-31. The ramps were built at the same time the interchange was built, but the connection to US-31 is unfinished due to funding constraints.

The feasibility of extending the highway to I-20/59 east of Birmingham has also been studied. The feasibility study concluded that the highway could not be extended due to the fact that the proposed interchange with I-20/59 would be at the Tallapoosa Street exit and, since the exit is situated at one end of the main airport runway, no additional bridges could be constructed at that location.

View of Interstate 22 under construction from Hillcrest Road in November 2005
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Alabama exit list

County Location Exit Destinations Notes
Marion 3 Marion County Road 33
Hamilton 7 Alabama State Highway 74 - Weston, Hamilton
11 Alabama State Highway 17 - Hamilton, Sulligent
14 Marion County Road 35
16 US 43/US 278 - Hamilton, Guin
22 Marion County Road 45
26 Alabama State Highway 44 - Brilliant, Guin
30 Alabama State Highway 129 - Brilliant, Winfield
34 Alabama State Highway 233 - Glen Allen, Natural Bridge
Walker 39 Alabama State Highway 13 - Natural Bridge, Eldridge
Carbon Hill 46 Walker County Road 11 - Carbon Hill, Nauvoo
52 Alabama State Highway 118 - Carbon Hill
53 US Alt 78
Jasper 57 Alabama State Highway 118 East - Jasper
61 Alabama State Highway 69 - Jasper, Tuscaloosa Old exit 96
63 Alabama State Highway 269 - Jasper, Parrish Old exit 101
65 Industrial Parkway Road Old exit 104
70 Walker County Road 22 - Cordova, Parrish
72 Walker County Road 61 - Cordova
78 Walker County Road 81 - Dora, Sumiton
Jefferson 81 Snowville Brent Road - West Jefferson
Graysville 85 U.S. Highway 78 - Graysville, Adamsville
86 I-222, connector to (I-422/Northern Beltline) proposed
87 Cherry Avenue - Graysville
Forestdale 89 Hillcrest Road - Graysville, Adamsville
91 Cherry Avenue - Brookside
Birmingham 93 Coalburg Road - Fultondale
95 I-65 Highway ends
95C U.S. Highway 31 projected

References