I-269 slated for 2015 completion

news_djournal_greenBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

BATESVILLE – To folks who drive around metro Memphis, including parts of Marshall County, the progress on Interstate 269 may seem agonizingly slow.

Mississippi Department of Transportation officials, though, say the 25-mile Mississippi section of the Metro Memphis perimeter highway is right on schedule, having started in 2011 and being slated for completion in 2015.

The loop is being built in seven sections. When both Tennessee and Mississippi finish their respective parts, it will connect with Bill Morris Parkway at Collierville, Tenn., before looping south and west through Marshall and DeSoto counties in Mississippi to end at the I-55/I-69 interchange.

Connecting to the Winfield Dunn and Paul W. Barret Parkways, the road will provide a perimeter loop around Metro Memphis from U.S. Highway 51 (Future I-69) at Millington, Tenn., to I-40 at Lakeland and south to Hernando.

“As expansion and growth continue, I-269 will be vital in promoting economic growth and development,” said Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert. “It will also provide a valuable means for commercial vehicles to move raw materials and manufactured goods through the region.”

Both new highways – the new limited-access corridor that will go north-south through Memphis and the I-269 perimeter loop – are part of the Interstate 69 route that, when finished, will stretch from the Canadian border at Port Huron, Mich., to the Mexican border at Brownsville, Texas.

“This is more than just a bypass around Memphis,” Tagert said. “The construction of I-269 will transform the region by connecting local communities in several states and will have far-reaching international implications.”

For Northeast Mississippians, one of I-269’s most important roles is in providing the highway connection that would upgrade U.S. Highway 78 through the region to Interstate status.

“I understand there’s even a possibility that U.S. 78 may be redesignated as I-22 prior to the completion of I-269,” said District Engineer Mitch Turner of MDOT’s District 2 Batesville office. “The way I understand it, since it was already planned to tie into I-269, bringing the current highway up to Interstate standards will allow the redesignation. The last part awaiting completion is the New Albany bypass.”

errol.castens@journalinc.com