National Starting Point: Wickes, AR, at the junction with US 71 (effective
National Ending Point: Hilton Head Island, SC at the intersection of Greenwood Dr and Pope Ave.
Total Distance: 1,074 miles
States: AR, MS, AL, GA, SC
Mississippi Starting Point: Arkansas border at the Mississippi River near
Mississippi Ending Point: Alabama border near Gaftman, MS
Mississippi Distance: 241 miles
Mississippi Counties: Washington, Bolivar, Coahoma, Quitman,
Panola, Lafayette, Pontotoc, Lee, Monroe
Cities/towns over 5,000 pop served: Greenville, Leland, Cleveland, Clarksdale, Batesville, Oxford, Tupelo, Amory
19.1 miles with US 82 in Washington County
65 miles with US 61 from Leland to Lyon
107 miles with MS 6 from Clarksdale to Tupelo
1.3 miles with MS 9 in Pontotoc
20 miles with US 278 in Monroe and Lee Counties
0.4 mile with MS 25 in Amory
NHS: From Arkansas border east to the Tenn-Tomm Waterway
Freeway Segments: In Oxford and from Tupelo to Shannon.
Other Multilane Segments:
From Arkansas border to Merigold
From Batesville to MS 76 west of Pontotoc
From Shannon to junction with US 45/MS 41
Average Daily Traffic (standalone section): Ranges from 2,400 near Wise Gap to 13,000 in Amory.
This route used to have a small existence in Mississippi, stretching the roughly 30 miles from the Alabama border west to US 45, where it terminated. However, by 1998, due to heavy lobbying of AASHTO primarily by interests in Arkansas, US 278 was extended west to terminate in Wicks, AR. To my knowledge, the route is mostly signed in Arkansas, but the new extension is not signed in Mississippi. It doesn't even show up in the official highway map (though I admit that the latest version is from early 1998), though it does show up in a couple official publications from MDOT. I'm not certain, but since this extension effectively follows MS 6 in its entirity, MDOT may be considering replacing MS 6 wholly with US 278.
While I have no qualms with the extension of US 278, I greatly disagree with the routing it took through Mississippi. Whether this was the pick of the Arkansas interests or because MDOT (seems to have) only half-heartedly pursued the extension is anybodys guess. If I were in charge, I'd have done it a bit differently:
From Greenwood Springs west, I'd have effectively replaced MS 8 with the US 278 extension. This would result in much less duplexing than the current route, plus it's a more direct route. Instead of 211 miles of duplexes, this routing would only have about 67, with only 2 duplexes of more than 8 miles. Existing US 278 between US 45 and Greenwood Springs could be resigned as eastern extensions of MS 41 (from US 45 to Amory) and MS 6 (from Amory to Greenwood Springs). US 278 would still duplex with US 61 from Cleveland down to Leland, then with US 82 into Arkansas, leaving a 20 mile stretch of MS 8 remaining from Cleveland to Rosedale. When and if the Great River Bridge gets built, US 278 could be rerouted to it, completing the replacement of MS 8.
Consruction Notes (standalone section):
Preliminary work is being done on a bypass of Amory.
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