Nonconnah Parkway

The Nonconnah Parkway connects I-240 in Memphis with U.S. 72 in Collierville. As of October 2003, it is completed to U.S. 72 in south Collierville; an extension to the northeast to meet Poplar Avenue (TN 57) in Piperton is currently under construction.

Nonconnah Parkway is named after Nonconnah Creek, which this section of highway roughly follows.

This portion of TN 385 is part of the National Highway System, according to this map. Note that the map marks this segment as TN 86, which is the Tennessee designation for U.S. 72 between Collierville and the Mississippi state line.

What about “Bill Morris Parkway”?

Under the provisions of a 1998 state law, public chapter 950, all of TN 385 is also named "Bill Morris Parkway." Actual usage of the name varies; small signs indicating the name are posted at the west terminus and just past the Bailey Station road exit of the south leg, but the TN 385 exit off of I-240 was labelled "Nonconnah Parkway" until well into 2003. On-ramps on the south leg use a primary TN 385 shield only; some on-ramps on the north leg use the "Paul Barret Parkway" name in addition to a secondary TN 385 shield. The Commercial Appeal refers to the south leg as "Bill Morris (Nonconnah) Parkway," but refers to the north leg as "Paul Barret Parkway." Traffic reporters continue to call the south leg the "Nonconnah Parkway."

Here's a Bill Morris Parkway sign (on the westbound south leg, just west of Bailey Station). It's not a memorial, since he isn't dead.

Bill Morris served as the mayor of Shelby County for sixteen years. He is likely to be the last conservative Democrat ever elected to that office.

What's the deal with these weird intersections?

The new sections of TN 385 make extensive use of a relatively new type of interchange, called a “Single Point Urban Interchange”, or SPUI. These are sometimes also called “Urban Diamonds” or “Single Point Diamond Interchanges”. The first SPUI in Tennessee was the one at Walnut Grove Road and Germantown Parkway (TN 177) in Cordova. For more information on SPUIs, look at Kurumi's Field Guide to Interchanges. All of TN 385's SPUIs are the opposite of those shown on his page (the "through" highway, TN 385, is always on top).

For reference, here are the intersections on the south leg that aren't SPUIs:

When the Collierville-Arlington Parkway is built, the U.S. 72 SPUI will be completed.

The original Winchester Road interchange was designed as a partial cloverleaf (to provide better access to Germantown Road). This was changed after the environmental impact study; it is now a SPUI.

Most of the SPUIs are designed with two left-turn lanes from the highway in each direction, and two left-turn lanes from the surface street in each direction (all with dedicated arrow signals). However, Kirby Parkway's SB left turn lanes were turned into a single left-turn lane with a protective/permissive arrow, probably because of low traffic volumes. In addition, the Hacks Cross and Forest Hill-Irene off-ramps only have one left turn lane marked, because when the highway was opened, both streets were only two-lane facilities (Hacks Cross is now seven lanes, and work is underway on Forest Hill-Irene; the lines still aren't repainted).

Exceptions to the rule: both offramps at Riverdale, the EB offramp at Kirby, and the EB offramp at US 72 only have one left turn lane onto the surface street.

Original Plan: The Winchester Road Freeway

The environmental impact study for Nonconnah Parkway had the highway following the existing Winchester Road corridor to Houston Levee, then branching off to the south for a proposed Collierville bypass, with a connector to Poplar Avenue west of Bailey Station. The parkway would have been a 6-lane limited access facility, with parallel 2-lane, one-way service roads replacing the existing Winchester to provide access to light industry on the north side and the residential areas on both sides.

The apparent story behind the change is that real estate developers figured out that a separate Nonconnah Parkway alignment would double the number of intersections which could be developed between Germantown Road and Collierville, so they pushed for the alignment change. The rerouting also minimized the impact on existing property along the route.

The new routing also avoids adverse impact on existing homes, by staying mainly within the Nonconnah Creek floodplain.

Why is TN 385 only 4 lanes east of Winchester?

I don't know. The draft study called for a 6-lane facility throughout its length. None of the bridges on this segment are designed for more than four lanes (plus emergency shoulders), except the Winchester bridge itself.

Between Winchester and Hacks Cross, there are 6 lanes, but they are enter/exit merge (auxilliary) lanes, like the additional enter/exit lanes between Winchester and Riverdale.

What's the speed limit on TN 385? How fast do people really drive?

The posted speed limit is 55 mph (88 km/h) between I-240 and Winchester, and 65 (105 km/h) from Winchester to the Collierville terminus. There are no minimum speed limits. The prevaling speed is between 65 and 70 on the south leg, irrespective of the posted speed limit; this is consistent with other Memphis-area freeways.

The Shelby County Sheriff's Department has recently been cracking down on speeding on TN 385, concentrating on the Winchester-to-Collierville section. However, according to recent articles in the Commercial Appeal, they appear to be concentrating mainly on speeders going at least 10 mph over the posted limit, and regularly pull over people going over 100 mph (160 km/h)!

Memphis police may turn more attention toward TN 385 as the speed limits on other sections of Memphis' freeway system have recently been raised to 65 mph, including on much of I-40 along the Wolf River (long a site of revenue-motivated speed enforcement for MPD) and I-55 through Whitehaven.

Opening Dates



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Chris Lawrence <> (3 Oct 2003 at 23:47 CDT)