This report highlights notes along Corridor X at the Mississippi/Alabama line, from a trip on November 27, 2005.

US 78 at the MS/AL state line

Last week, while returning back to Picayune from Thanksgiving up near Nashville, I took some time out to investigate the various renditions of US 78 at the MS/AL state line. The following is part roadtrip-report, part research paper.

My US 78 field research centered on the segment between Tremont, MS and Weston, AL (a little west of Hamilton). The main goal was to locate the former state line crossings on US 78, but I found some interesting other tidbits in the process.

Though field work and map investigation, I found that there have been 4 generations of US 78 through the Tremont-Weston stretch, as listed below:

- 1st Generation, of course, was the old Bankhead Highway.  I found 6 small segments of the old route that still exist today.

- 2nd Generation: sometime likely in the late 1930s, around the same time the route was paved, US 78 was realigned to straighten out several curves in the old Bankhead Highway.

- 3rd Generation: ca. 1963, US 78 was put onto a new alignment from about a mile west of the state line to about a mile east of AL 19. The old, "2nd generation" routing became what is today CR 94.

- 4th Generation: eventually, what became today's US 78 freeway was built, in segments:

- 4th Generation, Part 1: first, the Alabama side was 4-laned (but not freewayed) from the state line to about 1 mile west of AL 19 in the mid-80s (ca. 1987). The "3rd Generation" alignment along this segment became the westbound lanes.

- 4th Generation, Part 2: the Hamilton Bypass opened up ca. 1989, but ALDOT's map does not indicate this was a freeway at the time.

- 4th Generation, Part 3: Mississippi's portion of the freeway, plus a full freeway on the Alabama side, was completed ca. 1993.


Some field notes from the area:

- Parts of the 2 1st-generation segments on the Alabama side remain unpaved to this day. These two segments are today's McCrae Rd and CR 267.

- All of the 1st-generation segments on the Mississippi side are paved (albeit barely so), although one of them, Jones Rd, has been cut in two by the US 78 freeway.

- 1st- and 2nd-generation US 78 crossed the state line at the same location, roughly 3/4 mile south of the current state line crossing.  This 1st/2nd gen crossing still exists and is accessible on both sides of the border. The Alabama side is Marion CR 94, while the Mississippi side is Kent Rd.

- The DeLorme atlases show the 2nd-generation Mississippi side as continuing across present-day US 78, which isn't the case.  Instead, when the freeway was built, a south frontage road was built, tying the old road into State Line Rd (shown on the DeLorme as "Horns Crossing Rd") just south of where State Line Rd crosses under US 78.  On a related note, both the MS and AL DeLormes show an interchange on US 78 at State Line Rd, which isn't the case. There are no interchanges on US 78 between MS 23 and CR 33.

- Although the Alabama side has long since been paved over, some of the original 2nd-generation concrete still exists on the Mississippi side, running from the state line up to the edge of the freeway right-of-way where the south frontage road take over.

- Some of the 2nd-generation concrete also exists north of the US 78 freeway, though this segment is not a present-day road and now serves as a parking spot for an abandoned school bus and mobile home.

- MS 178 (3rd-generation US 78) literally dead-ends about 1/2 mile east of State Line Rd. The pavement stops and was completely torn out about half-way up an incline going up to the state line. One can even see where there was an eastbound climbing lane along this now-gone 3rd-generation segment.

- Over on the Alabama side towards Hamilton, part of the 3rd-generation US 78 remains and serves in part as a north frontage road for the US 78 freeway. The segment that exists goes from about halfway between CR 9 and AL 19 east to AL 74. As with the MS 178 dead-end segment, this segment also has an eastbound climbing lane, which in the modern-day ends right before the stop sign at AL 19.

That's it for my Tremont-Weston notes. Below are some Corridor X notes from the same trip:

- Although trailblazer shields exist at the ends of the offramps, AL 74 still is not signed from the guide signage at Exit 7, even though this interchange is the signed end of AL 74.

- Along the new freeway segment that opened up on 11/22, many of the distance signs only show the distance to the control cities at the next interchange....none of them between AL 129 and CR 11/Carbon Hill showed the distance to Jasper or Birmingham.

- Even though the freeway extension was clearly open, I still saw a lot of people getting off at the AL 129 interchange (which still had US 78 shields on the guide signage).

- Eastbound past the AL 233 interchange was a set of black US 78/AL 4/Corridor X shields, rather than the usual blue that ALDOT has used for this type of shield.

- Got off briefly at AL 13 to see if US 78 was still signed on the old route. Sure enough, it still was on 11/27...but the road was eerily empty.

- What few kilometer-related guide signs existed at AL 69 and/or AL 269 (about 5 years ago) have since been replaced with standard mile-based guide signage.

- Although US 78 officially follows Industrial Pkwy Rd on the east side of Jasper (from the present completed end of Corridor X up to the 78/69 intersection), present-day signage goes back and forth between having "TO" banners and not having "TO" banners.

- A side trip on AL 118 (what used to be US 78) found END signage for AL 118 at the AL 69 junction.

- Curiously enough, Exit 52 (AL 118 east of Carbon Hill) has no control cities listed...just AL 118 shields.

- Sure enough, as Cody Goodman reported earlier, the westbound "pull through" guide sign at Exit 52 sports an "I-78" shield instead of the proper "US 78" shield.

That's it for my Corridor X adventures of last weekend.

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(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig