Sunflower Rantings

My own "Road Rant" on Mississippi and other highways

No page would be complete without a space to voice gripes, complaints, and opinions about the transportation system in one's area.  Here's mine.  (NOTE:  these opinions are my own and DO NOT reflect those of the Mississippi Department of Transportation)


One of my major pet peeves with Mississippi is the lack of paved shoulders.  The Interstates have them, but largely because they're required.  Very few of the non-Interstates have any paved shoulders, and most of the 2-lane and even some of the 4-lane roads lack even a graded shoulder.  Newer bridges and those that have been redecked/rebuilt/replaced have shoulders, as well as the approaches to the bridges, but most of the roads themselves don't.  This, IMHO, is not a good thing, especially if one were to run into trouble along the highway.  According to various people I've spoke with, the main reason why Mississippi has very few paved shoulders is because MDOT has no set policy on paving shoulders.

One thing that's partially improving things is a recent MDOT trend towards paving roughly 2 feet of shoulder on new and recent paving and mill/overlay projects.  This helps, but it isn't the same as having a full or even "partial" paved shoulder.

If it were up to me, I'd do some significant changes.  In addition to the interstates, all 4-lane divided highways and National Highway System highways (whether 2-lane or 4-lane) would have full 10-foot paved shoulders.  Divided highways would also have the 4-foot paved inside shoulder.  Non-NHS primary routes would get minimum 8-foot paved shoulders, while other main "through routes" (basically those that rate a red line on Rand McNally maps or a black line on the Mississippi highway maps) would get minimum 4-foot paved shoulders.

Guide signage

A 2-part problem.  1 -  The guide signage at non-Interstate interchanges is substandard at best, downright ugly at worst.  2 -  Signage of cross-roads along the expressways is almost non-existent.  MDOT is starting to make amends, having installed Interstate-grade signage along the MS 25 Carthage and US 82 Eupora bypasses, and replacing all the guide signage along US 78.

What I'd do is very simple.  For part 1, I'd make all interchange signage Interstate-grade, whether it's associated with an Interstate or not.  For part 2, I'd follow Minnesota's policy of putting up guide signs showing the street name or county route before one gets to the intersection.


With the exception of the Interstates and US 78, mileposts are non-existent along Mississippi highways.  This makes things very inconvenient if one is trying to give directions or report accident locations.

A very simple fix, in my book:  put mileposts up on Mississippi highways, at least on the NHS and major highways at a minimum.   Another thing I'd do is number non-Interstate interchanges, using the corresponding milepost (Iowa does this along US 218, also Arizona along US 60, and Florida along some of its toll roads).

Route Continuity

Another peeve of mine is the lack of continuity along many of Mississippi's highways, especially many of the secondary routes.  I can understand and live with a route that goes from a primary highway to a town, but many routes in Mississippi don't even do that.  They stop in the middle of nowhere, and a few even start up again somewhere else.  This thing of "State Maintained" and "Locally Maintained" is a sticking point of mine too.  In my opinion, if it's a state highway but isn't "State Maintained" or in a city or town (the only valid reason in my book for it NOT being state-maintained), it should either BECOME state-maintained or be turned back to the county.  This thing with routes stopping in the middle of nowhere would come to a stop as well.  I would either extend/reroute it to a logical termini, or I'd get rid of the route altogether.

The "Louisiana Shuffle"

The "Louisiana Shuffle" is the name I've given to my ideas for a major Interstate renumbering in southern Louisiana.  See the webpage for more.

Freeway Lanes and Freeways

Even though Mississippi is a fairly rural state, it still has a large amount of through traffic, including significant truck traffic.  All 4 2di Interstates are important travel routes, each serving a different travelshed.  This creates a lot of heavy traffic that one might not expect, considering Mississippi's ruralness and lack of population.   Heavy traffic counts are primarily found in 4 main areas:  the Gulf Coast, Jackson, Meridian, and the greater Memphis area.

Currently, there are only 3 Interstate areas with at least three mainline lanes in each direction, I-20 and I-55 in Jackson, and I-10 in Harrison County.  I-20 has six-lane sections between I-220 and I-55 South, along the duplex with I-55, and from I-55 North to MS 468.  I-55 is 6-8 lanes between I-20 and I-220.  I-10's 6-lane section currently runs from Exit 28 (Long Beach) to the I-110/MS 15 interchange (Exit 46), and another section between MS 43/603 (Exit 13) and Diamondhead (Exit 16) is under construction.

Although there are widening projects either on the books or proposed, these still won't be enough to provide an effective level of service for the amount of traffic on these roads.  Down below, I've broken down what expansions I feel are needed to handle the ever-increasing traffic volumes, as well as freeway extensions/creations I would make (NOTE, my proposals also include Alabama and some extend into other states):

I-10 I-12/59 to I-65 4 lanes.  6 lanes from Exit 28 to I-110. 6 lanes U/C from MS 43/603 to Diamondhead. 6 lanes overall, 8 lanes from US 49 to I-110. 6-laning planned from Diamondhead to MS 57. Remotely possible outside that segment already proposed, though unlikely. 8 lanes VERY unlikely. 
Note 1
I-10 Water St in Mobile to I-110 in Pensacola 4 lanes 8 lanes to US 90/98 in Daphne, 6 lanes east to I-110. A new 6-lane bridge over Mobile River is planned, as is 8-laning the "Bayway" and 6-laning east to AL 59. The rest is remotely possible.
Note 2
I-20 US 61 South to I-220 4 lanes 6 lanes Possible as part of MDOT's Vision 21.
I-20 I-55 NORTH to US 80/Brandon (Exit 56) 6 lanes to MS 468, 4 lanes east of MS 468 8 lanes to MS 468, 6 lanes east of MS 468 Possible as part of MDOT's Vision 21.
I-20 I-59 in B'ham to AL 77 4-6 lanes 6 lanes Planned near Leeds by 2005 and from I-59 to I-459 by 2020.  Otherwise remotely possible.
Note 3
I-55 MS 27 to I-20 4 lanes 6 lanes Possible north of Byram as part of MDOT's Vision 21.
I-55 I-20 to I-220 6 lanes + auxiliaries 8 lanes + auxiliaries Doubtful north of MS 25, possible south.
Note 4
I-55 I-220 to MS 22 4 lanes, except for 8 lanes from I-220 to Old Agency Rd, 6 lanes planned from Old Agency Rd to MS 463. 8 lanes to MS 463, 6 lanes north of MS 463 Possible as part of MDOT's Vision 21.
I-55 MS 4 to I-240 4 lanes. 8 lanes from MS/TN Line to I-240.  8 lanes U/C from MS 302 to MS/TN Line.  6 lanes planned Hernando to MS 302. 6 lanes south of Hernando, 8 lanes north. Construction has begun north of MS 302. South of Hernando possible as part of MDOT's Vision 21.
I-59 I-20/59 split in B'ham to Argo (Exit 148) 4-6 lanes 6 lanes Possible by 2020.
I-65 I-10 to US 98 6 lanes + auxililaries 8 lanes Doubtful.
I-65 I-165 to US 43 4-6 lanes 6 lanes Planned by 2020.
I-65 US 80 West to AL 14 4 lanes + auxiliaries, 6 lanes from AL 152 to US 82 West. 6 lanes overall, 8 lanes from I-85 to AL 143 Remotely possible.
I-65 AL 25 to Exit 247 4 lanes 6 lanes Planned south to Exit 238 by 2020.
I-65 I-459 to Corridor X 6 lanes + auxillaries 8 lanes + auxillaries Planned by 2020.
I-65 Mt. Olive (Exit 272) to I-565 4 lanes.  6 lanes from Exit 272 to MM 292. 6 lanes Possible south of Cullman.
I-20/55 Commons stretch in Jackson 6 lanes 10 lanes Possible after 2010.
I-20/59 I-20/59 split to US 45 4 lanes 6 lanes Remotely possible.
Note 5
I-20/59 US 82 to Warrior Rd (Exit 118) 4-6 lanes 6 lanes.  8 lanes from US 11/AL 5 to I-459. 6-laning planned.  Some portions complete or under construction as of mid 2004.
I-20/59 Warrior Rd (Exit 118) to US 78 6-8 lanes 8 lanes Possible by 2020.
I-20/59 US 78 to I-20/59 split 6-8 lanes 10 lanes Possible southwest of I-65 by 2020.  Doubtful northeast of I-65.
Note 6
I-220 I-20 to I-55 (NW Quad) 4 lanes 6 lanes Doubtful.


I-55 to I-20 (SW, NE Quads) Nothing 4 lane freeway VERY doubtful.
I-259? I-20 east around Meridian to US 45, then north to I-20/59 Nothing 4 lane freeway Very doubtful.
Note 7
I-359/AL 69 US 11/43 north to US 82 6 lane arterial 6 lane freeway Doubtful.
Note 8
I-420? I-20/59/459 to I-65 north of Gardendale to I-59 near Argo to I-20 near Leeds Birmingham "Northern Beltway" proposal 4-6 lanes Planned from I-20/59/459 to Argo by 2020.  Remotely possible south of Argo.
Note 9
I-459 I-20/59 to Exit 6 4 lanes 6 lanes Remotely Possible.
I-459 I-65 to I-20 6 lanes 8 lanes Likely by 2020.
I-755?/MS ?? I-55 near downtown Jackson east to Jackson Int'l Airport "Metro Jackson Parkway" proposal 4-8 lane freeway Proposed, but unfunded.
Note 10
I-759 US 411 east to US 278 Nothing 4 lane freeway Possible.
US 49 I-10 to MS 469 4 lane expressway.  6 lanes in Gulfport. 4 lane freeway Proposed, but unfunded.
US 49 MS 469 to I-20 4 lane expressway.  Northernmost mile near I-20 is U/C to 6-lane freeway. 6 lane freeway Additional lanes planned by 2010, but freeway is doubtful.
Note 11
US 78/Corr X AL 129 to I-65 2-lane road/4 lane expressway 4 lane freeway.  6 lanes east of Jasper Under construction.  East of Carbon Hill to south of Jasper completed.
US 82 West of Northport to southeast of Tuscaloosa 4-6 lane surface arterial 4 lane freeway on new location "Black Warrior Loop" connecting US 82 to I-20/59 and bypassing Northport/T'loosa to the noth and east is U/C. Extension south to US 82 remotely possible.
US 280 US 31 to Westover 4-6 lane expressway 4 lane freeway.  6 lanes west of AL 119 Remotely possible.
Note 12
MS 25 I-55 to MS 471 4 lane expressway.  6 lanes from I-55 to MS 475. 4-6 lane freeway Doubtful.
Note 13
MS 67 US 90 near MS Coast Coliseum to US 49 near Saucier 4 lane parkway U/C from I-110/MS 15 to US 49.  4-6 lane freeway proposed from US 90 to I-10. 4 lane freeway.  6 lanes south of I-10. Freeway from US 90 to I-10 near Exit 41 is possible.  I-10 to U/C MS 67 is my own idea.
MS 304/TN ?? US 61 east to US 78, north to TN 385 A proposal. 4 lane freeway U/C from US 61 to I-55. 4 lane freeway Likely by 2020.
Note 14
MS 475/Airport Rd I-20 to Jackson Int'l Airport 4 lane expressway/2 lane road 4 lane freeway Upgrading is probable after 2005, though freeway is unlikely.
Airport Road widening is likely.
Note 15
MS 601 Port of Gulfport to US 49 north of Gulfport A proposal. 4 lane freeway Possible as part of MDOT's Vision 21.

Table notes
1 - Pearl and Pascagoula River areas are environmentally sensitive.  Pearl River would require either a parallel or a replacement span.  Pascagoula River would require major deck widening.

2 - New 6-lane high bridge to bypass Wallace Tunnel currently proposed.   Widening the Mobile Bay causeway, while planned, will be difficult and environmentally sensitive.
3 - Widening the high bridge east of I-59 would be very difficult, if not impossible.
4 - Very built-up north of MS 25.  South of MS 25 to Fortification Street is probable after 2010.  South of Fortification St has the Pearl River floodplain to deal with.
5 - Very heavily built-up along frontage roads in Meridian.  Would require either relocation/removal of businesses or reduction in frontage roads.  A traffic study ongoing as of early 2004 will provide recommendations.
6 - Very heavily built up in the vicinity of downtown Birmingham.

7 - An alternative to widening I-20/59 through Meridian.  This would be a south bypass of Meridian and would utilize the southern section of the US 45 bypass much more efficiently.  Parts of corridor showed up in early Interstate and US 45 bypass proposals, but is doubtful now due to hills and lack of $.  The traffic study mentioned in note #5 will provide recommendations.
8 - Would be difficult due to development near the roadway in many areas.   Also, Black Warrior River bridge has no shoulders.
9 - Birmingham Northern Beltway proposal.  Long-range plan for completion by 2020 from Bessemer to Argo.  Extension from Argo to Leeds is proposed, but not a given yet.
10 - An EIS has been issued for this project. It is not known whether this will be a full freeway, or what the route number (if any) would be.

11 - Would be difficult due to development near the roadway in many areas. One possibility that has surfaced in MDOT's Vision 21 is a new freeway alignment from US 49 south of MS 469 north to the I-20/MS 475 interchange.
12 - Would be difficult due to development near the roadway in many areas. A toll road proposal has surfaced for US 280 in recent years.

13 - Difficult due to nearby development and impacts on the Pearl River floodplain.  The Metro Jackson Parkway proposal includes a connector to MS 25, which would alleviate some of the need.
14 - The portion west of I-55 is planned to become part of I-69's routing. East of I-55 is proposed as I-269, but could also become part of an I-22 designation along US 78/Corridor X.
15 - This is my alternative to the I-755 proposal above.  This one could also be numbered I-120.

Page last modified 19 February, 2004

Copyright (C) 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999,  Adam Froehlig