Interstate 26 is an Interstate Highway in the US state of Tennessee. The highway forms a north-south route through the far east of the state, from Kingsport to Rice Bend on the border with North Carolina. The route also visits the city of Johnson City. Interstate 26 is 89 kilometers long.
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I-26 begins at the town of Kingsport, located on the border with Virginia. This is where US 23 connects in Virginia. The motorway then forms the bypass of Kingsport and leads through the hills to the west of the city. Just outside Kingsport, a cloverleaf trail follows Interstate 81. I-26 then travels through a large valley between two primary ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. This is where the city of Johnson City is located. Here, I-26 passes directly past downtown Johnson City and then enters a narrowing valley. I-26 then begins a long 500 m ascent at Johnson City to 1158 m on the border with North Carolina. This is one of the highest highways in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. TheInterstate 26 in North Carolina then descends again towards Asheville.
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The original plan for the Interstate Highways envisioned Asheville as the northern terminus. So I-26 would run from I-40 in Asheville to Charleston, and not through Tennessee. Interstate 26 was built north of Asheville as an upgrade from US 23. This was a full-fledged freeway. In 1970, the highway between Kingsport and Johnson City opened. By the early 1980s, this had extended north to the Virginia border and south to Erwin, completing nearly all of the highway in Tennessee. In 1985, the northern section between Kingsport and Johnson City was numbered Interstate 181, a spur of I-81.
The southernmost portion of I-26 between Erwin and the North Carolina border was last constructed in the mid-1990s. The highway then became a two-lane road at the pass on the North Carolina border, the connecting portion in North Carolina opened in 2003, completing the highway as far as Asheville.
The official extension of I-26 from Asheville to Kingsport followed in 2003. At that time, I-26 ran no further north than I-81. The number I-181 still existed from there to the Virginia border, the AASHTO opposed that a primary number should not end on another Interstate Highway, but on a state line and become a US Highway. An extension of I-26 to the Virginia border was approved in 2005 and the renumbering took place in 2007.
It was later planned to extend Interstate 26 much further northwest to Columbus, Ohio, via the so-called Appalachian Development Highway System, a series of routes to be upgraded to make the Appalachian Mountains more accessible. However, there are currently no plans to build I-26 in Virginia, Kentucky, or Ohio.
22,000 vehicles drive daily on the Virginia border, rising to 25,000 vehicles through Kingsport and up to 43,000 vehicles between Kingsport and I-81. The busiest point is in Johnson City with 56,000 vehicles per day, declining to 22,000 vehicles per day. Only 9,000 vehicles a day drive on the border with North Carolina.
Interstate 269 in Tennessee
Interstate 269 or I -269 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of Tennessee. The freeway forms a partial ring road around Memphis and its suburbs and is 35 miles long.
Interstate 269 begins on the north side of Memphis on US 51, near the suburb of Millington. The highway heads east first, then curves south to run along the east side of suburban Memphis. There is an interchange with Interstate 40 at Arlington. Near Collierville is an interchange with State Route 385, after which the Mississippi border follows a few miles further. Interstate 269 in Mississippi then continues around the Memphis region.
Memphis originally had only a minor beltway around its urban core, Interstate 240. Over the years, the suburban area has grown well beyond I-240, and today the vast majority of the urban area is beyond I-240. That is why a second ring road was necessary, this became I-269, as an auxiliary route of Interstate 69. I-269 passes through both Tennessee and Mississippi.
I-269 was originally constructed as State Route 385, a freeway around the north and east sides of Memphis. The first part opened to traffic in 1982, but the largest part has been opened since 1995. In 2013, a major missing link opened east of Memphis, and in 2015 the southernmost section to the Mississippi state border opened. Since 2018, the section between I-40 and the Mississippi border has been signposted as I-269.
|Singleton Parkway||4 km||00-00-1982|
|Hickory Hill Road||2 km||24-12-1993|
|Riverdale Road||Hickory Hill Road||3 km||22-12-1995|
|Houston Levee Road||Riverdale Road||12 km||29-12-1997|
|Singleton Parkway||18 km||25-09-1998|
|Byhalia Road||Houston Levee Road||3 km||00-10-1999|
|Byhalia Road||3 km||00-00-2005|
|Poplar Avenue||4 km||23-08-2007|
|Macon Road||7 km||00-06-2009|
|Macon Road||Poplar Avenue||13 km||22-11-2013|
|Mississippi state line||4 km||23-10-2015|
It is being investigated whether it is possible to turn I-269 into a complete ring road around Memphis. This requires two additional bridges over the Mississippi River. The distance from starting point Millington to the Mississippi River is 16 kilometers. It is unlikely that this part will be constructed in the foreseeable future.
10,000 to 12,000 vehicles drive daily on the northern section, rising to 16,000 vehicles for the I-40 interchange. This rises to 18,000 vehicles per day along the eastern side of the Memphis region.