Interstate 65 marker
Interstate 65
I-65 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by ALDOT
Length366.229 mi[1] (589.388 km)
Major junctions
South end I-10 in Mobile
Major intersections
North end I-65 / US 31 at Tennessee state line
Location
CountryUnited States
StateAlabama
CountiesMobile, Baldwin, Escambia, Conecuh, Butler, Lowndes, Montgomery, Elmore, Autauga, Chilton, Shelby, Jefferson, Blount, Cullman, Morgan, Limestone
Highway system
  • Alabama State Highway System
SR 64 SR 65

Interstate 65 (I-65) meanders across 366 miles (589 km) of the Alabama countryside linking six of the state's 10 largest cities. The highway links together many important roadways that make commerce inside and outside of the state's boundaries possible. It starts at I-10 near Mobile. The route passes through the major cities of Montgomery, Birmingham, and Decatur before entering Tennessee in the north near the town of Ardmore, Alabama.

The entire Alabama portion of I-65 is dedicated as Heroes Highway in honor of Central Intelligence Agency officer Johnny Micheal Spann and all of the people who died during the September 11 attacks.[2]

Route description

Southern terminus at I-10 in Mobile
Southern terminus at I-10 in Mobile

I-65 starts its northward journey in Mobile as a three-lane freeway at a directional Y interchange with I-10 not far from the Gulf of Mexico. From there, it runs northeast, intersecting with I-165 in Prichard. At exit 13 in Saraland, the Interstate transitions from three to two lanes. The highway next crosses the Mobile–Tensaw River Delta at the General W.K. Wilson Jr. Bridge. En route to Montgomery, it passes county seats Evergreen (Conecuh County) and Greenville (Butler County). In the case of a hurricane evacuation on Alabama's coast, I-65 can be converted to an evacuation route where all lanes flow in the northbound direction from Mobile to Montgomery. This process is known as contraflow. The terrain on this stretch of road is slightly hilly, aside from a stretch in southern Conecuh County near Castleberry, where the road is slightly mountainous as it descends over 400 feet (120 m) into the southern plains of Alabama.

Billboard along I-65 north, north of Prattville and just south of milemarker 191[3]
Billboard along I-65 north, north of Prattville and just south of milemarker 191[3]

As the I-65 approaches the Montgomery city limits, the Hyundai Motor Company's automotive plant can be found just off freeway. It can be accessed using the PintlalaHope Hull exit (exit 164). After entering the city limits, I-65 intersects U.S. Route 80 (US 80, exit 167; which leads to Selma toward the west) where the Interstate gains an additional lane for a total of three lanes in each direction. Further on, it intersects the southern terminus of I-85 and crosses the Alabama River north of the city. At exit 181, which provide access to Prattville and Wetumpka, I-65's lanes drop to two.

At Chilton County, I-65 enters the Birmingham metropolitan area. Approximately halfway between Montgomery and Birmingham, it passes Clanton, the county seat, where the water tower, visible from the road, is shaped and painted to resemble a huge peach. Between exit 212 (State Route 145 (SR 145)) and exit 219 (County Road 42), I-65 was designated "War on Terror Memorial Highway" in 2014.

I-65 junctions with US 31 (exit 238) in Alabaster, where the Interstate carries three to four lanes until I-20/I-59. I-65 intersects I-459 in Hoover, then passes through the cities of Vestavia Hills and Homewood, which often generate heavy traffic. As the Interstate passes by downtown Birmingham, southbound travelers have a view of the Vulcan statue atop Red Mountain. At the north edge of downtown, I-65 reaches the I-20/I-59 intersection (exit 261) with a crossover interchange, often called "Malfunction Junction", through which the highway has five lanes, continuing on northward with four.

North of Birmingham at mile 266, interchange ramps provide access to parallel US 31. It is here that I-65 meets the eastern terminus of I-22, which heads northwest to Memphis, Tennessee, filling in a gap in the Interstate Highway System. After which, I-65 intersects Walker Chapel Road (exit 267) in Fultondale, where the Interstate drops to three lanes. The Interstate then continues 98 miles (158 km) in the general direction of Huntsville, crossing the BlountCullman county line (milemarker 291), where lanes transition from three to two, as well as passing the city of Cullman on the way. After entering the Decatur metropolitan area, in southern Morgan County, the Interstate passes Decatur. The highway connects the Huntsville–Decatur metropolitan area as it crosses Wheeler Lake (Tennessee River) on a 2.6-mile (4.2 km) bridge. The Interstate emerges again into the fringes of Decatur in an open area of seemingly "endless" cotton fields where it intersects, inside Decatur, with SR 20, U.S. Route 72 Alternate (US 72 Alt.), and the spur route I-565 to Huntsville.

Between Walkers Chapel Road in Fultondale and the Tennessee River in Decatur (Limestone County), I-65 has been designated the "Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway". The sign designating the north end of this portion of road cites Reagan's speech in Decatur on July 4, 1984. The Interstate then continues, passing Athens, and merges with US 31. The two routes travel concurrently approximately 12 miles (19 km) to the Tennessee state line.

In the Birmingham–Hoover vicinity, a plan to widen the Interstate from North Birmingham to Alabaster has been proposed.[citation needed] The project is to widen the Interstate by adding an HOV lane and keeping the original three lanes making it four lanes in each direction. This is planned to stretch to the Pelham area. From there, the Interstate will widen from two lanes each way to three lanes each way into the Helena–Alabaster area.

Near the northern border of Alabama with Tennessee on southbound I-65 is located the Alabama Welcome Center and rest area. The unique feature of this rest area compared to others is the large Saturn IB rocket erected on the site as a memorial to Alabama's—and, in particular, Huntsville's—contribution to NASA's space exploration.[4]

History

The first section designed for the future Interstate Highway System spanned from the Tennessee border to Athens at US 31. It opened on November 15, 1958, and has a historical marker on the Tennessee side of the border. It was converted to full Interstate standards around 1970.[citation needed] The first section of Interstate in Alabama opened to traffic was the eight-mile (13 km) stretch of I-65 between northern Jefferson County and Warrior on December 10, 1959.[5] A 26-mile (42 km) segment between Clanton and Calera opened to traffic on March 23, 1961.[6] On April 1, 1961, a 26-mile (42 km) section between north of Warrior and SR 69 near Cullman opened to traffic.[7] On May 25, 1961, two segments of I-65, a 14-mile (23 km) segment near Clanton and a six-mile (9.7 km) segment between Calera and Alabaster, were opened.[6] In Mobile, the 6.8-mile (10.9 km) section between US 90 and US 45 opened on January 4, 1963.[8] Work on the Tennessee River bridges in Morgan and Limestone counties began in April 1969, and the bridges were dedicated and opened on November 21, 1973.[9]

While most of I-65 in Alabama was completed in the 1960s, the last segments to be completed were some of the last segments to be completed on the entire Interstate Highway System. The 11.7-mile (18.8 km) section between Alabaster and Hoover opened on May 20, 1981.[10] The first contacts for the construction of the 12-mile (19 km) segment between US 43 north of Mobile and SR 225 in Baldwin County, including the six-mile-long (9.7 km) General W.K. Wilson Jr. Bridge, were awarded in 1967, and the section was opened on October 2, 1981.[11] At the time, this was the most expensive highway project in the state's history, costing $137 million (equivalent to $337 million in 2020[12]).[11] The last section to be completed was a 14-mile (23 km) section between Lewisberg and Warrior that opened on December 19, 1985, which replaced a four-lane section of US 31 that had been designated as part of I-65 but did not meet Interstate Highway standards.[13]

In 1997, at Georgiana (exit 114), honoring legendary country musician and Alabama native Hank Williams, the Interstate was designated as Hank Williams's Memorial "Lost Highway", after one of his songs. This designation continues northward until mile 179 north of Montgomery. From the state's capital, I-65 doglegs northward, bypassing Prattville and Clanton before going through the Birmingham metropolitan area. From exits 242 to 290, this highway carries at least six lanes of traffic. A portion of the Interstate running through Birmingham has been nicknamed "Malfunction Junction" for its numerous wrecks. These accidents include two separate occasions of the support beams melting after crashes by 18-wheelers and the numerous collisions that happen every year, resulting from the junction with I-20 and I-59.

In 2004, following the death of former-President Ronald Reagan, a lengthy segment of I-65 from Jefferson County to Limestone County was designated the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway. The sign designating the north end of the segment includes a statement from Reagan's speech at Point Mallard Park in nearby Decatur on July 4, 1984.

Future

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Just a few miles north of I-22 will be the new interchange (exit 274), which will be Corridor X-1, and has been designated as Interstate 422. This loop route will connect I-65 with I-59 northeast of Birmingham and I-20/I-59 southwest of Birmingham, and this will serve as an Interstate Highway bypass of Birmingham, augmenting the existing I-459, which already provides the southern loop of Birmingham. Construction of this interchange is still several years away, but right-of-way is in the process of being acquired to build I-422.

Exit list

CountyLocationmi[14]kmExitDestinationsNotes
MobileMobile0.0000.0000 I-10 – Mississippi, FloridaSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; southern terminus; I-10 exit 20; directional T interchange
1.9303.1061 US 90 (SR 16, Government Boulevard)
3.645.863Airport BoulevardServes Mobile Regional Airport and University of South Alabama
4.487.214Dauphin Street
5.568.955ASpringhill AvenueServes Spring Hill College
5.7529.2575B US 98 (SR 42, Moffett Road)
Prichard8.41213.5388 US 45 (SR 17, St. Stephens Road) – Prichard, Citronelle, Butler, Meridian
9.64015.5149 I-165 south – Prichard, Downtown MobileI-165 exit 0 northbound; tri-stack interchange
Chickasaw10.61617.08510West Lee Street
Saraland13.06721.02913 SR 158 (Industrial Parkway) / SR 213 – Eight Mile, Saraland, Citronelle
17.39727.99815Celeste Road – Saraland, Citronelle
19.49531.37419 US 43 (SR 13) – Satsuma, Creola, Thomasville, Demopolis
21.50534.60922Sailor Road – Creola
Mobile River
Tensaw River
24.22038.978General W.K. Wilson Jr. Bridge
Baldwin31.79351.16631 SR 225 – Stockton, Spanish Fort
33.93554.61334 SR 59 – Bay Minette, Stockton
37.72460.71137 SR 287 (Gulf Shores Parkway) – Bay Minette, RabunTwo-lane on-ramp for I-65 north towards Montgomery
45.04472.49145Rabun, Perdido
Escambia53.57486.21954 CR 1 (Jack Springs Road)
57.65692.78857 SR 21 – Atmore, UriahTo Pensacola
Barnett Crossroads69.356111.61869 SR 113 – Flomaton, WallaceTo Pensacola
Conecuh77.402124.56677 SR 41 – Brewton, Repton
83.372134.17483 CR 7 – Castleberry, Lenox
Evergreen, Conecuh County92.930149.55693 US 84 (SR 12) – Evergreen, Conecuh County, Monroeville
96.509155.31696 SR 83 – Evergreen, Conecuh County, Midway
100.685162.037101 CR 29 – Owassa
Butler107.345172.755107Hank Williams Road – Grace, Garland
113.969183.415114 SR 106 – Georgiana, Starlington
Greenville127.661205.450128 SR 10 (Pineapple Highway) – Greenville, Pine Apple, Butler, MeridianSouthern end of SR 10 Truck overlap
130.046209.289130
SR 185 / SR 10 Truck east – Greenville
Northern end of SR 10 Truck overlap
Lowndes141.531227.772142 SR 185 – Fort Deposit, Logan
151.108243.185151 SR 97 – Letohatchee, Davenport
157.628253.678158
To US 31 (SR 3, Tyson Road) – Pintlala, Tyson
Montgomery163.792263.598164 US 31 (SR 3) – Pintlala, Hope HullServes Hyundai Motor Company's Montgomery Plant
Montgomery166
I-85 to I-685 – Atlanta, Meridian
Future southern terminus of Montgomery bypass
167.103268.926167 US 80 west (SR 8 west) – Selma, DemopolisSouthern end of US 80/SR 8 overlap
168.213270.713168

US 80 east / US 82 east (SR 6 east/SR 8 east/SR 21, South Boulevard) to US 231 (SR 53) / US 331 (SR 9)
Northern end of US 80/SR 8 overlap; southern end of US 82/SR 6 overlap
169.513272.805169Edgemont AvenueSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
170.093273.738170Fairview Avenue
171.157275.450171 I-85 / I-685 north / Day Street – AtlantaI-85 no number signed; future I-685, exit 0; complete access to I-85/I-685, southbound exit and northbound entrance only to Day Street
171.748–
171.824
276.402–
276.524
172Herron Street, Clay Street – Downtown Montgomery
172.013276.828Bridge over the Alabama River
172.725277.974173
To US 231 (North Boulevard)
Unsigned SR 152
ElmoreMillbrook175.535282.496176 SR 143 – Millbrook, CoosadaNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
MillbrookPrattville
city line
178.961288.010179 US 82 west (SR 6 west, Cobbs Ford Road) / SR 14 west / Montgomery Toll Road – Millbrook, PrattvilleNorthern end of US 82/SR 6 overlap; southern end of SR 14 overlap
Prattville181.282291.745181 SR 14 east – Prattville, WetumpkaNorthern end of SR 14 overlap
Autauga186.426300.024186 US 31 (SR 3) – Pine Level, Prattville
Chilton200.366322.458200Verbena
Clanton205.340330.463205 US 31 / SR 22 (SR 3) – Clanton, Verbena
208.35335.31208Lake Mitchell Road – Clanton, Lake Mitchell
211.876340.981212 SR 145 (Lay Dam Road) – Clanton, Lay DamPeach Tower exit
219.256352.858219Jemison, Thorsby
ShelbyCalera228.380367.542228 SR 25 (Main Street) – Montevallo, Calera
231.206372.090231 US 31 (SR 3) – Saginaw, Calera, Montevallo
233.976376.548234Shelby County Airport
238.321383.540238 US 31 (SR 3, 1st Street) – Alabaster, Saginaw
Pelham241.841389.205242 CR 52 – Pelham, Helena
246.062395.998246 SR 119 (Cahaba Valley Road)
Hoover247.262397.930247 CR 17 (Valleydale Road)
Jefferson250.083402.470250 I-459 – Atlanta, Gadsden, TuscaloosaI-459 exit 15
251.967405.502252 US 31 (Montgomery Highway/SR 3)
253.697408.286254Alford Avenue
Homewood255.087410.523255Lakeshore Parkway
256.117412.180256Oxmoor Road – HomewoodSigned as exits 256A (west) and 256B (east) southbound
Birmingham257.557414.498258Green Springs Avenue
258.827–
258.957
416.542–
416.751
259AUniversity Boulevard (northbound)
6th Avenue South (southbound)
Signed as exit 259 northbound
259.127417.024259B4th Avenue South & 3rd Avenue SouthSouthbound exit (4th Avenue) and northbound entrance (3rd Avenue)
259.697–
259.937
417.942–
418.328
260 US 11 (US 78/SR 4 east/SR 7, 3rd Avenue North) / 6th Avenue North – Downtown BirminghamSigned as exit 260B northbound
260.562419.334261 I-20 / I-59 – Gadsden, Atlanta, TuscaloosaSigned as exits 261B (east/north) and 261C (west/south); I-20/59 exits 124B-C; hybrid interchange
261.369420.633262A16th StreetNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
261.952421.571262BFinley Boulevard (SR 378)
262.611–
262.685
422.631–
422.751
26332nd Avenue (northbound)
33rd Avenue (southbound)
263.462424.001264Daniel Payne Drive/Lewisburg RoadRamp to I-65 north also connects to I-22 west
Fultondale264.010424.883265A I-22 west – Jasper, MemphisEastern terminus of I-22; I-22 exit 95
264.997426.471265B US 31 (SR 3) – Fultondale
266.61429.07267Walker Chapel Road
Gardendale269.76434.14271Fieldstown Road
271.29436.60272Mt. Olive Road
274.72442.12275
To US 31 (SR 3, Barber Road) – Morris
Warrior279.46449.75280
To US 31 (SR 3, Service Road) – Warrior
280.48451.39281Old US 31 – Warrior
281.24452.61282Cane Creek Road – Robbins, Warrior
BlountSmoke Rise284.361457.635284 US 31 south (SR 3 south) / SR 160 east – Hayden, CornerSouthern end of US 31/SR 3 overlap
287.370462.477287 US 31 north (SR 3 north, Bee Line Highway) – Garden City, Blount SpringsNorthern end of US 31/SR 3 overlap
289.33465.63289Empire, Blount Springs
Cullman291.861469.705291 SR 91 – Hanceville, Colony
299.446481.912299 SR 69 south / CR 490 – Jasper, Dodge CitySouthern end of SR 69 overlap
303.490488.420304 SR 69 north / CR 437 – Cullman, Good HopeNorthern end of SR 69 overlap
Good Hope307.55494.95305 CR 222 (Good Hope Road)
Cullman307.464494.815308 US 278 (SR 74) – Cullman, Double Springs
310.039498.959310 SR 157 (Section Line Road) – Cullman, Moulton
Morgan318.161512.030318 US 31 (SR 3, 2nd Avenue) – Lacon, Vinemont
321.855517.975322Pike Road – Falkville, Eva
Hartselle324.938522.937325Thompson Road
327.474527.018328 SR 36 (Main Street) – Hartselle
DecaturPriceville
city line
333.337536.454334 SR 67 – Decatur, Priceville, Somerville
Wheeler Lake
Tennessee River
336.619541.736Bridge over Wheeler Lake and Tennessee River
LimestoneHuntsville340.002547.180340 I-565 east / SR 20 west (US 72 Alt.) – Huntsville, DecaturSigned as exits 340A (west) and 340B (east) southbound; I-565 exit 1 westbound & 1A-B eastbound; eastern terminus of SR 20; western terminus of I-565
Tanner347.412559.105347 CR 24 – Tanner
Athens351.024564.918351 US 72 (SR 2) – Athens, Huntsville
354.157569.960354 US 31 south (SR 3 south) – AthensSouthern end of US 31 overlap; unsigned northern terminus of SR 3
Elkmont360.918580.841361 CR 100 – Thach, Elkmont
364.826587.131365 SR 53 south (Upper Elkton Road, 7th Street) / CR 81 – ArdmoreNorthern terminus of SR 53
366.229589.388 I-65 / US 31 north – NashvilleContinuation into Tennessee
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also

References

  1. ^ "FHWA Route Log and Finder List: Table 1". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  2. ^ "Heroes Highway of Alabama". Montgomerygop.net. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
  3. ^ Simon, Scott (July 23, 2005). "Alabama Billboard's Message Changes". All Things Considered. NPR. Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  4. ^ Hughes, Bayne (April 6, 2014). "Iconic rocket due for repair". Decatur Daily. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  5. ^ Stanton, Allison (December 11, 1959). "State's road program rolls right along". The Birmingham News. p. 18. Retrieved August 18, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ a b Badger, Eddie (May 23, 1961). "$266 million in road spending predicted". The Birmingham News. Retrieved August 18, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Interstate Road Section Near Cullman Is Opening Saturday". The Decatur Daily. March 31, 1961. Retrieved August 18, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Mobile dedicates urban road link". The Montgomery Advertiser. January 4, 1963. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  9. ^ "Wallace Calls New Interstate Bridge 'Step Forward'". The Tennessean. Nashville, Tennessee. United Press International. November 22, 1973. p. 79. Retrieved August 18, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Hoover-Alabaster I-65 leg opened as commuters wait". The Montgomery Advertiser. AssociatedPress. May 21, 1981. p. 21. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "James opens final leg of interstate to Mobile". The Montgomery Advertiser. Associated Press. October 3, 1981. Retrieved August 18, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2022). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved February 12, 2022. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  13. ^ "Highway official says I-65 delays may have benefited Birmingham". The Gadsden Times. December 19, 1985.
  14. ^ "Milepost/General Highway Maps". Alabama Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved April 14, 2016.

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