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Central AR to Alabama beaches going through Memphis/Tupelo?

Little Rock, AR
posts: 926
reviews: 76
Central AR to Alabama beaches going through Memphis/Tupelo?

Just wondered if any Arkansans from the Little Rock or Central AR area have driven to the Gulf Shores, AL area going on I 40 to Memphis, then going to Tupelo, MS & catching 45 there, down to Mobile??

We have avoided I 40 to Memphis for a while now because of the construction but its now completed. I know there are some others in AR using this route & wondered if anyone from Little Rock could comment on how you liked it. Was your drive time about the same as going the typical route (Vicksburg, Jackson, Hattiesburg, etc?? Any issues with getting to Memphis? Traffic is usually so bad on I 40 b/c of the trucks & we never get to Memphis as fast as we'd like.

Thanks!

Arkansas Ozarks
posts: 766
reviews: 12
1. Re: Central AR to Alabama beaches going through Memphis/Tupelo?

I'm from North Central AR and have used the route you mentioned 3 times; we used it while we were pulling a travel trailer. We really like the route while pulling a trailer because 45 is in much better shape than I 55 and 49, and we could avoid pulling the trailer through the tunnel in Mobile.

Plus due to having relatives across southern MS, we have driven I55 south almost to the Louisiana state line and US 49 to Hattiesburg more times than I can count and I don't find either stretch of road an enjoyable drive. Have also driven the routes through southern AR to either Greenville MS, Lake Providence LA, etc. many times. I have yet to find significant time savings on any route.

Edited: 9:36 am, July 14, 2013
little rock arkansas
Destination Expert
for Little Rock, Arkansas
posts: 3,061
reviews: 231
2. Re: Central AR to Alabama beaches going through Memphis/Tupelo?

I really can't help on this but I'll comment. I hate the "usual route." I have received speeding tickets (make that speed-ing TRAP tickets) and had one accident (due to terrible back-country drivers) over many years going the LR-Pine Bluff- Vicksburg route to the coast and do almost anything I can to avoid it. I go to New Orleans often. I drive down from Memphis through Jackson sometimes, and even sometimes drive the route from LR-Shreveport and down to I-10 believe it or not; and once a stretch between Texarkana and Shreve is controlled access, and construction is complete at Baton Rouge, I am convinced that will be considered a reasonable alternative route from LR to New Orleans. i have not taken the Memphis-Tupelo route in a long time though, but am doing so very soon at the end of this month, but am headed instead to Birmingham instead of Mobile. People on the AL forums rave about the Mem-Tupelo route. Sorry I can't help you, but encourage you to try new routes. The "usual" route has done me no favors. It is great to hear LR-Memphis is finally clean. That was one of the worst fiascos in interstate construction history. But I will miss gong through Devall's Bluff on the detour I often took and taking in a Craig's Barbeque on occasion. Have a great trip and let us know about the new route.

Little Rock, AR
posts: 926
reviews: 76
3. Re: Central AR to Alabama beaches going through Memphis/Tupelo?

Thanks for the replies. Since I posted this question, I've been told I may be wrong about I 40 construction being finished between Little Rock & Memphis. Some are saying it was opened up for the 4th of July but work is on- going. I'm not sure--sorry. If it's not finished, there's no way we're going to Memphis to get to the beach--ugh!

There really is no easy & direct route from AR to the Gulf Coast & that's frustrating. I'm always so anxious to get there & start enjoying my vacation & it seems like we usually encounter traffic tie-ups. I've spoken with some friends who used the Memphis route & they felt that it did not decrease their travel time & that dealing with I 40 & all the traffic was a pain.

Another route we're considering this year is the usual South AR to Hattiesburg route & then take Highway 63 at Lucedale, MS to I 10. Supposedly, 63 is 4 lanes & would let us avoid the little towns of Wilbur & Semmes, AL where 98 turns into a 2 lane, very slow road. To be continued...

posts: 11
reviews: 9
4. Re: Central AR to Alabama beaches going through Memphis/Tupelo?

I am sure getting to Memphis from LR is not good on 40. We live enough north that we take 64 from Bald Knob and cut across to 40 near Earle. We take 55 south just for a few miles and cut across on 302 to 78. This time we took 45 out of Tupelo and it was the least stressful trip we have made to the Gulf. From 45 near Mobile we took 158 to 65S to 165 to 90 across the Bay Bridge. From there you can get on 10. You have avoided the tunnel. We travelled on Saturday and Sunday and had almost no traffic on 45.

Little Rock, AR
posts: 926
reviews: 76
5. Re: Central AR to Alabama beaches going through Memphis/Tupelo?

Glad to hear you made it & made it with such ease! It sounds like your closeness to Memphis & ability to avoid 40 makes this route really good for you.

Fayetteville...
Destination Expert
for Seabrook Island
posts: 1,023
reviews: 2
6. Re: Central AR to Alabama beaches going through Memphis/Tupelo?

I drove I40 Lit-Mem on Saturday June 29. Construction definitely was not complete...rather the barrels were still up and we did have one complete stop on the interstate :(

Having said that, I've come through when there have been no problems. My hunch is it is a "time of day" issue. For reference, I recall making the route between 9 am-noon...on a Saturday.

From West Memphis to Tupelo, there is one tricky exit in Memphis. Somehow I missed it this summer and ended up having to "Recalculate". Ended up bypassing most of Memphis' industrial park (and the countless stoplights!). Once you cross over into MS the interstate is good (I did note some construction) and traffic is minimal.

Many years ago, we drove the "direct" route to Gulf Shores area--PB and down. I'm all for 2-lane country roads just not when it is wall-to-wall traffic of beach going suv's with drivers who don't know how to drive on country roads!

Little Rock, AR
posts: 926
reviews: 76
7. Re: Central AR to Alabama beaches going through Memphis/Tupelo?

OurGreatEscape, thanks for your reply. Traffic between LR & Memphis is usually such a pain, even without construction! My husband has no desire to try the LR/Memphis/Tupelo/etc route so we'll be going through South AR. We're considering driving past Hattiesburg on 98 & then getting onto 63 at Lucedale. It's a 4 lane that goes to I 10. I'm hoping that could help us avoid the little 2 lane, overly congested parts of 98.

8. Re: Central AR to Alabama beaches going through Memphis/Tupelo?

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