Future Memphis Highways: Where does TN 385 fit in?

The various parts of TN 385 have differing roles in future transportation around the Memphis area.

U.S. 72

While the U.S. 72 route has not been shifted onto Nonconnah Parkway (indeed, there is no signage indicating that through traffic should use TN 385 - a glaring oversight), much of the through traffic seems to be shifting to the new route. No word yet on whether Germantown and Collierville are seeing less revenue from speeding tickets...

In the longer term, U.S. 72 is already a four-lane route from Mount Pleasant, Mississippi, to Chattanooga. The federal government has designated this route as a high-priority corridor (#7), so it is likely that the section of U.S. 72 from Nonconnah Parkway to Mount Pleasant (about 8-10 miles) will be upgraded in the near future.

MS 304

Mississippi is building a freeway from Robinsonville, Mississippi (the location of the Tunica casinos), to the Tennessee state line near Collierville. This route, which is using the Mississippi 304 number for now (currently used by a rural two-lane road from Robinsonville to Hernando that once extended further east to Holly Springs), is designed to connect to the Collierville-Arlington Parkway to create a complete eastern loop around the Memphis metropolitan area.

Construction is currently underway on MS 304 between U.S. 61 and I-55 in DeSoto County. This funding has been secured as part of the Corridor 18 project, better known as I-69 (see below).

More information on the proposed highway is available at my MS 304 page.

What does MS 304 have to do with the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park?

This industrial park is part of an interstate project involving Fayette County, Tennessee and Marshall County, Mississippi. The basic idea is for the government to exercise eminent domain powers over the land in question, then sell it off for a large industrial park straddling the border of the two states. You can read this testimony before Congress about the proposal.

Memphis-Atlanta Interstate (I-22?)

Note: I-22 is not a designation that is written into law anywhere.

Interstate 22 refers to a future Memphis-Atlanta freeway corridor. There are two possible routes for I-22, each of which has received some support in recent federal legislation:

U.S. 78/ISTEA Corridor 10
This plan would build an interstate-grade highway between Memphis and Birmingham, with traffic to Atlanta following the existing I-20 route from there (or using the proposed I-459 northern bypass to I-20).
U.S. 72/ISTEA Corridor 7
This plan would build a direct interstate-grade highway between Memphis and Atlanta, following the existing U.S. 72 (and Alt U.S. 72 and I-565) past Huntsville, then going southeast along GA 20 via Rome, Georgia to connect with I-75 north of Atlanta, probably via the proposed Atlanta Outer Beltway.

The more likely route is the U.S. 78 (Corridor 10) corridor, because of the very real advantage that over half of the road already exists at (near) interstate quality already, with most of the remainder under construction or out to contract. This route will intersect with the MS 304 outer loop, and it has no direct connection with TN 385. The complete freeway from the Mississippi line to I-65 in Birmingham is expected to be open by 2010. As of late September 2003, Congressional efforts to designate the I-22 corridor were well underway and expected to be approved as part of a transportation spending bill by early October.

The other route (following U.S. 72) would probably use the south leg of TN 385 as the west end of I-22; presumably, there would be an interchange with MS 304 somewhere near Collierville, with I-22 traffic flowing from the Nonconnah leg of TN 385 to a new highway, and Memphis Beltway traffic flowing from MS 304 to the Collierville-Arlington leg of TN 385.

The Memphis-Huntsville-Atlanta (U.S. 72) route provides better direct access to Memphis' interstate system since existing TN 385 ties directly into I-240; U.S. 78 cannot be rebuilt between the state line and I-240 without displacing a lot of property owners (although much of the property is fairly run-down). The U.S. 78 route is less direct, but through traffic will be able to use MS 304 to take TN 385 to I-240, or use MS 304 to I-55 to I-240.


I-69 is one of the contenders for the "NAFTA Highway" title, and the only one that connects the industrial heartland of Canada (southern Ontario and Quebec) with northeastern Mexico.

While none of TN 385 is currently planned to be part of I-69 proper, the route from Millington to Collierville (via Arlington) is planned to be designated as part of Interstate 269, an outer loop for Memphis that eventually will reconnect to I-69 south of Memphis near Hernando, Miss.

For further details, see I69Info.com or Andy Field's Corridor 18 page.

TN 385 Home

Chris Lawrence <chris@lordsutch.com> (24 Sep 2003 at 07:52 CDT)