I-69 from Memphis to Evansville

Current Status

A scoping study is underway between Eddyville and Henderson (SIU 6: FR Notice).

Environmental impact studies in progress from Millington to Dyersburg (SIU 8: FR Notice) and from Eddyville to Henderson (SIU 5: KYTC Bulletin). Tennessee's 2002-04 state transportation improvement plan (PDF) includes $12 million (FY 2003) for right of way acquisition between Dyersburg and Fulton, and $8 million (FY 2002) for preliminary engineering between Millington and Dyersburg.

A final EIS has been issued, and a final routing selected, between Dyersburg and South Fulton (SIU 7); see TDOT's press release and the federal register notice. The SIU has been divided into five segments for design and construction work, with construction expected to begin perhaps as soon as 2005.

A final EIS is expected for the Millington-Dyersburg segment sometime in 2004, with the draft scheduled to be published early in the year. Construction expected to begin in 2006.

The following sections of future I-69 are complete and open to traffic:

In addition, these sections of existing freeway may be used, depending on the outcome of locational studies:

(Sections marked with (*) were not originally designed as part of I-69, but instead are other freeways which may be integrated into the route.)

In addition, a redesignation of Tennesssee SR 22 has been proposed as a spur from Union City to Martin.


SIU 8: Millington to Dyersburg

From the Memphis area, I-69 will generally follow the U.S. 51 corridor north from Millington to Dyersburg. As of today, the northern and southern portions of the route have been narrowed down to a single 1000-foot corridor running west of existing U.S. 51 along what was known as “Corridor R”; however, a middle portion of the route will be examined further between the Hatchie River crossing and Halls. This additional study will take approximately six months to complete, pushing final approval for the routing into 2007. (See map.)

As a result of this western routing, Interstate 155 will likely be truncated by around 8 miles, with Interstate 69 taking over the designation of I-155 east to its present terminus at U.S. 412/U.S. 51.

SIU 7: Dyersburg to South Fulton

North of Dyersburg, I-69 will follow the existing 23-mile U.S. 51 freeway from the I-155 terminus to the freeway's end just south of Troy; TDOT's project design statement says “few, if any changes, beyond re-signing the project as an Interstate, are required” in this section.

From Troy, I-69 will be routed along a new alignment (see map [PNG; 109k]), including a eastern bypass of Troy and a northwestern bypass of Union City, to rejoin the existing U.S. 51 freeway for a few miles northeast of Union City. The TN 214 and US 45 interchanges at the end of the project will be upgraded later in conjunction with Kentucky's work to upgrade the Julian M. Carroll (Purchase) Parkway.

The portions on new alignment will be designed in five sections, according to TDOT:

  1. From south of SR 211 to just south of SR 21 (4.0 miles/6.4 km)
  2. From just south of SR 21 to just south of existing U.S. 51 (4.0 miles/6.4 km)
  3. From just south of U.S. 51 to just south of SR 5 (2.5 miles/4.0 km)
  4. From just south of SR 5 to just west of SR 21 (4.0 miles/6.4 km)
  5. From just west of SR 21 to existing U.S. 51 near Mayberry Road (3.6 miles/5.8 km)

SIU 6: South Fulton to Eddyville

Leaving the Fulton area to the northeast, I-69 will follow the existing Julian M. Carroll (Purchase) Parkway[1] northeast to I-24, where it then will turn to follow I-24 east. The substandard interchange at the south end of the Purchase Parkway in South Fulton (Tenn.) will be reconstructed as part of this SIU.

SIU 5: Eddyville to Henderson

I-69 is likely to follow the Wendell Ford (Western Kentucky) Parkway east to the Breathitt (née Pennyrile) Parkway, where it will turn north again towards Henderson. It is also possible that a new freeway will be constructed following the U.S. 641/60 corridors via Marion and Morganfield, and there is some interest in such a routing. However, this would require additional federal and state funding to complete, and Kentucky already has one major new-location freeway project (I-66) on the books that appears to be a higher priority politically.

The costs of upgrading the existing parkways to modern Interstate standards, including adding safety barriers to the medians, increasing the vertical clearance of bridges, and redesigning a number of interchanges, might be quite substantial as well; the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is currently studying the feasibility of upgrading the parkways.

According to this article in the Evansville Courier & Press, KYTC's plan is to follow the existing parkways through the area; this has been confirmed by Jeffrey Coleman Carlyle in email correspondence with state highway officials. If I-69 does follow existing routes, it will overlay proposed I-66 along the Wendell Ford Parkway.

The state's proposed six-year transportation plan includes the following statement about SIUs 4–6:

In Kentucky, Interstate 69 will follow the existing Purchase Parkway from the Tennessee State Line to Interstate 24, then Interstate 24 to the Western Kentucky Parkway, then the Western Kentucky Parkway to the Pennyrile Parkway, then the Pennyrile Parkway north to Henderson. At Henderson, a new route (including a new Ohio River bridge) will be required to connect to Interstate 64 in southern Indiana. Both Tennessee and Indiana are actively engaged in pursuing their own segments of Interstate 69, and each state has cooperated in studies to assess connections at the state lines.

For Interstate 69 to become fully functional in Kentucky, it is expected that the existing parkway system will have to be upgraded. The Purchase, Western Kentucky, and Pennyrile Parkways are all limited access, four-lane divided highways, but there are spot locations where access control would have to be tightened and shoulder widths, clear zones, and bridge dimensions addressed before interstate highway design standards are achieved in full. It is expected that such upgrades will cost $700 million or more to accomplish. At Henderson, the new route and its new Ohio River bridge will likely cost an additional $800 million to complete. At this time, KYTC is involved in a study of the parkway upgrade needs from Interstate 24 to Henderson, and is on the verge of wrapping up the preliminary engineering and environmental work for the new Ohio River crossing at Henderson. Continuing work on Interstate 69 in Kentucky will depend upon the financial support that can be garnered for the project through the federal reauthorization and appropriations processes.

However, the route may also make use of “new terrain”; the March 17, 2004 edition of the Kentucky New Era includes an article containing the following paragraph:

Plans are being made by the federal government to run the proposed interstate from Evansville, Ind., to Henderson and then further west toward the Wendell Ford (formerly Western Kentucky) Parkway, a route that would bypass Christian County.

Spur Routes

At least one spur route is being considered in this section of the corridor.

TN 22 Martin Connector (I-169?)
Tennessee 2002 Senate Joint Resolution 512, approved by the Senate and but not passed by the House, encouraged TDOT to seek an I-169 designation for Tennessee SR 22 from current U.S. 51 north of Union City to Martin. The proposal apparently has the backing of local chambers of commerce.

Unlike other spur routes on the corridor, I-169 would simply be a redesignation of the SR 22 freeway from the U.S. 51/U.S. 45W interchange in Union City to Martin; the current route complies with current Interstate standards (except at the interchange with U.S. 51), like the freeway segments of U.S. 51 nearby. However, the spur route would not connect directly to the preferred I-69 corridor identified for SIU 7, so its chances of being adopted may be relatively slim unless a more direct connection to I-69 is built.

See also Kurumi's I-169 information.

Audobon Parkway

According to a February 12, 2005 article in the Owensboro (Ky.) Messenger-Inquirer, there is some interest in pursuing an Interstate spur designation for the Audobon Parkway, a toll road paralleling U.S. 60 between Henderson and Owensboro. Like Kentucky's other parkways, it would require significant upgrades to meet current Interstate highway standards.

It is also possible that other spur designations might be sought in Kentucky (perhaps for the new U.S. 641 route from Eddyville or for the Breathitt/Pennyrile Parkway south of the Western Kentucky Parkway).

What I'd Do



  1. Kentucky's parkway system includes a number of controlled-access routes that were originally built as toll roads. As the bonds used for construction have been paid off, they have been converted to free highways that are maintained out of state and federal funds.

    The parkways are generally built as divided freeways with two travel lanes in each direction and a paved right shoulder (however, some parkways in the less populous areas of the state were built as "Super 2" freeways). Unlike "parkways" in other states and the National Park Service's parkway system, the parkways do permit commercial traffic.

    The parkways do not meet current Interstate highway standards (they may have met then-current Interstate standards at the time they were designed and constructed, but that won't be sufficient for inclusion in Interstate 69); in particular, the parkways have narrow medians, short acceleration lanes at on-ramps, some low overpasses, and unusual interchange designs that would need modification for inclusion in the Interstate system.

Memphis Area | I-69 Home | Evansville Area

Chris Lawrence <i69@lordsutch.com> (23 Jun 2006 at 00:19 EDT)