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U.S. 72/Corridor V (Corridor 11)

Routing

NHS/ISTEA/TEA-21 High Priority Corridor 11, or "Appalachian Regional Development Corridor V," runs from Interstate 55 and U.S. 51 at Batesville, Mississippi, east to Corridor 7 at Huntsville, Alabama.

Initial construction of Corridor 11 that is not concurrent with the Corridor X project (U.S. 78/Corridor 10) are not being built to Interstate standards. Segments on the relocated sections of highway along Corridor 11 are built to a level of access control below freeway standards.

Mississippi

Beginning in Batesville, Mississippi, at Interstate 55, the route of Corridor V follows U.S. 278/Mississippi 6 east via Oxford to about six miles west of Pontotoc. It then follows Mississippi 76 on a northerly bypass of Pontotoc, which currently ends at Mississippi 9. It will curve southeast back to Mississippi 6 for a few miles, then follow a new alignment south of Tupelo, intersect U.S. 45, and continue to existing Mississippi 6 near Plantersville. Based on this routing, it seems likely that the current Mississippi 76 designation for the Pontotoc bypass will be dropped and replaced with U.S. 278/Mississippi 6 once it is completed sometime in the 2000s.

The part east of Fulton is actually numbered Mississippi 25, and continues north of Mississippi 178 to a point on the old alignment of Mississippi 25. From there, it will slide easterly to connect to Alabama State Route 24 near Red Bay. Mississippi 25 is eventually slated for four-lane upgrades both north of Corridor V (to Iuka) and south of the existing U.S. 78/Mississippi 25/Corridor V interchange (towards Amory), so this part of Mississippi will be seeing significant mileages of four-lane highways, a far cry from what it was 25 years ago.

Corridor V is now open to four lanes from Interstate 55 at Batesville to Denmark via Oxford via Mississippi 6 and 76. It continues along Mississippi 76 from U.S. 278 (Mississippi 6) to Mississippi 9 (Pontotoc), then is incomplete between Pontotoc and Tupelo. Then Corridor V follows U.S. 78 through Tupelo and Fulton, then turns north along Mississippi 25 between U.S. 78 and Mississippi 178 (old U.S. 78).

The U.S. 278 Extension

U.S. 278 was extended west from its former terminus south of Tupelo west into Arkansas. Based on a January 14, 1998, news release from the Arkansas Highway Department, U.S. 278 has been extended westward from its 1997 terminus in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Wickes, Arkansas. Jeremy Lance provided this update on U.S. 278 in early 1998:

U.S. Highway 278 is the new official designation for a route traveling through portions of southern Arkansas and northern Mississippi, according to Arkansas Highway Commissioners Mary P. "Prissy" Hickerson of Texarkana and John "M" Lipton of Warren.

Currently, U.S. Highway 278 extends from the Atlantic Ocean near Hilton Head, South Carolina to Tupelo, Mississippi. The new designation will extend the route from Tupelo to U.S. Highway 71 at Wickes, Arkansas, just south of Mena.

The newly designated extension begins at Tupelo and continues along Mississippi 6 to Clarksdale where it turns south along U.S. Highway 61 to Leland. The route then continues west along U.S. Highway 82 to the Mississippi River Bridge near Greenville.

The route enters Arkansas on U.S. Highway 82 at the Mississippi River Bridge near Lake Village and continues to McGehee along U.S. Highway 65. From McGehee, the route follows State Highway 4 through Monticello, Warren, Hampton, Camden, Hope, Nashville and Dierks to U.S. Highway 71 at Wickes. Along existing U.S. Highways 65 and 82, the roadways will be dual-signed with both designations.

If the Great River Bridge becomes a reality, the designation will be moved to include the new location between U. S. Highway 65 near McGehee and U. S. Highway 61 south of Clarksdale, Mississippi.

The Arkansas State Highway 4 U.S. Route Designation Committee sought the assistance of the AHTD in obtaining the U. S. route designation to aid in regional economic development and tourism efforts. At the request of the AHTD and the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials approved the U. S. 278 extension.

"This designation will provide route continuity for motorists in this region of the country," Hickerson stated. "New signs will be erected soon designating U. S. 278 across the state," Lipton added.

By 2004, signs appeared for U.S. 278, some five years after it was officially designated in Mississippi.

According to Jeremy Lance, Oklahoma was offered to extend U.S. 278 into their state, but declined to do so. My question is, where would U.S. 278 go? Maybe onward along Arkansas/Oklahoma 4 to U.S. 259, but from there, who knows? This is speculation, but if Oklahoma 4 were upgraded, it and Oklahoma 144 (when paved) would make an excellent extension of U.S. 278 at least to U.S. 271 and maybe along Oklahoma 43 to U.S. 69 and Oklahoma 7 to Lawton?

Alabama

Corridor V continues along Alabama 24 from Tremont to Decatur, Ala. (via Red Bay, Ala.), Alternate U.S. 72 and Interstate 565 from Decatur to Huntsville, and U.S. 72 from Huntsville. Upgrades to Alabama 24 are completed near Russellville, and includes a folded-diamond interchange at U.S. 43, Alabama 13, and Alabama 17. ISTEA/NHS High Priority Appropriations Item 9 allocated $25.4 million for the construction of the Alabama portion of Corridor 11 (from Red Bay to Huntsville). Already, most of Alabama 24 between has been upgraded to four-lane, divided highway, as shown in the 2001 National Geographic Map. Design and construction is still ongoing west of Russellville. The ISTEA/NHS funded section would directly connect to the as-yet incomplete Mississippi 76. Apparently Alabama is conducting location studies for its part of the route and intends to construct an Interstate-grade facility.

Page Updated August 18, 2005.