Mississippi Road Network

By | October 13, 2022

Mississippi’s Interstate Highway Network.

Mississippi, despite being the least prosperous state in the country, still has an extensive road network. Several freeways crisscross the state, a network that is supplemented by various US Highways that are constructed over large stretches of 2×2 lanes and open up all places of any size. All parts of Mississippi have a dense road network.

Road management

The state highway authority is the Mississippi Department of Transportation, abbreviated MDOT. MDOT operates 43,842 kilometers of state highway and 5,777 bridges. MDOT was not founded until 1992.

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Interstate Highway

Several Interstate Highways run through Mississippi. Interstate 10 runs along the Gulf Coast while Interstate 20 runs through the center of the state, via Jackson and Meridian. Interstate 22 leads from Memphis to Birmingham, crossing the northeast of the state, via Tupelo. Interstate 55 is the state ‘s primary north-south route and runs through the center. The only larger town on the route in Mississippi is the capital Jackson. Interstate 59 runs north-south through the southeastern part of the state, through Hattiesburg and Meridian, and then merges with I-20 into Alabama. In addition, a small section of Interstate 69. runs through the far northwest of the state.

In addition, there are some auxiliary routes. Interstate 110 is a spur from I-10 to Biloxi. Interstate 220 forms a bypass through Jackson, and Interstate 269 is part of the Memphis, Tennessee beltway.

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US Highways

Numerous US Highways traverse Mississippi and almost all US Highways are largely constructed as a 2×2 divided highway, with the exception of US 11, US 51 and US 80 which run parallel to Interstate Highways. US 90 runs through the coastal cities on the Gulf of Mexico and is run almost entirely with at least 2×2 lanes. The US 90 also has the necessary bridges on the route. US 45 is a 2×2 divided highway through the east of the state and US 61 is a 2×2 divided highway through the west of the state, parallel to the Mississippi River. Several east-west routes are also equipped with 2×2 lanes, such as US 72, US 82, US 84 and US 98. US 78 has merged into I-22.

Main roads with 2×2 lanes

Number Route Length
US 45 Corinth – Tupelo – Meridian – State Line 425 km
US 49 Indianola – Jackson – Hattiesburg – Gulfport 385 km
US 61 Memphis – Vicksburg – Natchez – Woodville 365 km
US 72 Memphis – Corinth – Oldham 190 km
US 82 Greenville – Columbus 275 km
US 84 Natchez – Waynesboro 275 km
US 90 Bay St. Louis – Gulfport – Biloxi – Pascagoula 105 km
US 98 McComb – Hattiesburg – Lucedale 220 km
US 278 Batesville – Pontotoco 115 km
SR-25 Jackson – Starkville 205 km
SR-63 Pascagoula – Lucedale 65 km

State Highways

Mississippi has an extensive network of state highways. The numbers are assigned in a grid, with odd numbers running north-south, increasing from MS 1 along the Mississippi River to higher numbers at the Alabama border. Even numbers run east-west, ascending from the Tennessee border to the Gulf of Mexico. Three digit numbers are related to the two digit numbers. Numbering runs from 1 to 999, but numbers above 700 are usually not signposted.

State highways are nowhere real freeways, but a number of important corridors have been constructed as 2×2 divided highways, most notably MS 25 from Jackson to Starkville and MS 63 from Pascagoula to US 45 at the state line. The Natchez Trace Parkway also runs through Mississippi, but has no number.

Toll roads

There are no toll roads in Mississippi, nor have there ever been.

History

The first paved road in Mississippi was a concrete road near Tupelo built in 1915. Mississippi’s road network was largely unpaved until the 1920s. Road management at the time fell under the State Highway Commission which was established on March 29, 1916. In 1922, the first fuel tax was introduced in the state to fund the development of the highway network, in addition to federal funding made available through the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916. This allowed Mississippi’s first state highway system in 1924. established. The state highway system of 1924 included a network of 78 state highways.

In 1930 a primary highway system was introduced, the roads were given priority. In the 1930s, much of the highway network in Mississippi was paved, especially the release of extra money in 1936 allowed the remaining US Highways to be asphalted. The first bridge over the Mississippi River was Old Vicksburg Bridge ( US 80 ) which opened on May 1, 1930. This was a combined road/rail bridge. The Benjamin G. Humphreys Bridge ( US 82 ) at Greenville was the second bridge and opened to traffic on October 4, 1940. The main span of this bridge was the longest over the Mississippi River at the time. In 2010, this bridge was replaced by the current Greenville Bridge. Also in October 1940, the Natchez – Vidalia Bridge ( US 84 ), the third bridge over the Mississippi River, with a second span built next to it in 1988. In 1961, the Helena Bridge ( US 49 ), the fourth bridge over the river, and the most recent bridge built across the river at a new location, opened. In 1973, the Vicksburg Bridge opened from Interstate 20, replacing the 1930 Old Vicksburg Bridge.

The first freeways to open in Mississippi were portions of I-20 and I-55. Priority was given to these highways, which were significantly completed during the 1960s. I-59 was also built at that time. In 1973 the I-20 and I-59 were ready, in 1974 the last opening of the I-55 followed, with which Mississippi had three through highways. However, the construction of I-10 started quite late, later than in neighboring states. The first section did not open until 1970 and the highway was completed in 1982. I-22 was originally constructed as US 78 as a freeway. The first section of this opened in 1974, and the highway was significantly completed between 1991 and 1995. The entire Mississippi route has been completed since 1995. I-110 in Biloxi and I-220 around Jackson also opened in the 1980s. The newest Interstate is I-269, which opened south of Memphis in 2017-2018.

Before the 1980s, Mississippi had few 2×2 divided highways. The Four Lane Highway Program of 1987 changed that when $1.3 billion was made available to widen 1,600 miles of road to 2×2 lanes, primarily US Highways, but also some state highways. In 2002 this program was continued as ‘Vision 21’. This program was largely completed by 2015, resulting in a dense network of 2×2 roads across the state.

Traffic intensities

The traffic volumes in Mississippi are generally quite low, outside the major cities on many Interstate Highways there are not much more than 20,000 vehicles per day on the rural routes. This is somewhat higher in and around larger cities, but longer routes with more than 50,000 vehicles per day are an exception. The only busier corridor is I-55 through Jackson where the intensities on a longer stretch are between 100,000 and 130,000 vehicles per day, this is also the busiest road in Mississippi.

Mississippi Road Network