JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi Transportation Commission (MTC) has authorized the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to submit an application for approval to designate U.S. Highway 78 as Interstate 22 in North Mississippi.
U.S. 78 was congressionally designated as a future interstate corridor and will connect to Interstate 269 in Mississippi once construction is complete. MDOT’s application to change U.S. 78 to I-22 will be sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration for final approval.
“As expansion and growth continue in North Mississippi, I-22 will play a vital role in promoting safety and economic development throughout the region,” said Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert. “I-22 will connect local communities in Northeast Mississippi to the future I-269 corridor located in Marshall and Desoto counties.”
Some concerns were raised about weight limits for harvest permitted loads when considering changing the designation of U.S. 78 to I-22. Those concerns were addressed this past December when President Obama signed the 2015 Fiscal Year Omnibus Appropriation Bill into law. Tagert worked with late U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-MS) to include language in the bill ensuring weight limits will not be lowered once the route designation is changed.
“Agriculture is the number one industry in Mississippi, and without this bill, transport of these goods along I-22 would be severely crippled,” said Tagert. “This bill prevents weight limit changes that usually accompany a new interstate designation.”
The process to designate an interstate is typically a lengthy one, but changes were introduced in the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21) allowing states to request an interstate designation once the route meets federal standards and there are plans for the route to connect to the existing interstate system within 25 years. U.S. 78 meets these requirements. It was built to federal standards and connects to the existing interstate system in Tennessee.