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I-124 (not signed as interstate)  Tennessee (link)

1.97 miles [1note]. Interstate 124 is a spur serving Chattanooga. The freeway continues north as US 27.

This is a strange one. I had pronounced it dead circa 1996, but it does exist; it's just hardly signposted at all. Recently the city and state have mulled over various plans to update or replace the freeway.

The interstate dates back to at least 1963, and was one of Tennessee's first freeways. It's not really up to modern standards because of bad interchanges and sharp turns, and a narrow mountain pass. [5note]

It used to be signed on the freeway portion of US 27 north of I-24 near Chattanooga. In 1987 the signs were removed, and I-124 appeared to be decommissioned.

Reports from the Field

Hairline (from AOL) wrote in 1997:

"I-124 still appears on TDOT's 'Interstate Highway Map.' The map is one of several on the 1997 Official Highway Map publication. The map seems current because along with I-124, it includes State Rt 840 and I-140. My take on this is that even though TN decommissioned I-124, it has not been removed from the Interstate System. It's one of those secret interstate routes that are signed as something else.

"Despite I-124's appearance on the 'Interstate Highway Map' though, it does not appear on the 'Official Highway Map' (another map on the Official Highway Map and loaned to travel brochures) or the Chattanooga map." [3note]

John J. Cain wrote in 1998:

"I live in Chattanooga and had no idea that I-124 had been decommissioned. Either the city or state has just put up new I-124 signs; The state wants to spend $200 mil to bring the downtown portion up to interstate standards (possibly recommissioning the 3di?) Once the downtown portion is completed it will eliminate all the weaving at the cloverleaves and replace them with collector feed systems while widening the 3di itself to 8 lanes. North of downtown two interchanges will be closed due to the hilly terrain that does not allow enough room for all three interchanges only one industrial one will be left at Manufactures Road. In the 80's a new portion to I-124 (U.S. 27) was built running form the older sectoin to 30 miles north of the city past Soddy-Daisy. The new phase is 100% up to interstate standards. With the new ISTEA funding for roads the state wants to continue expanding the road up to the Kentucky State line." [2note]

John J. Cain wrote in 2004:

"The bridge over the Tennessee River (Olgati Bridge) has been widened to 6 lanes in each direction with expansion to 8 total in the future possible. This project was completed last year. During the construction the signs for I-124 were removed (there were only 2 small ones). They have not been replaced. TDOT has also removed the I-124 designation from the Tennessee State Map.

"On Sunday October 17, 2004 the Chattanooga Times Free Press's cover story was the future of US 27/I-124. The surface boulevard concept has been completely done away with. Instead the highway will have "frontage" lanes to handle local traffic and 4 through lanes to handle through traffic. Also TDOT plans to straighten out the "S" curves in the downtown area. TDOT does not anticipate starting the final phase (phase 3) until 2010. TDOT does expect the state to approve the plan in 2005. In the mean time in 2007 phase 2 will begin which is the portion of US 27/I-124 from the Tennessee River to Signal Mountain Blvd.

"Originally Phase 1 was going to be the downtown portion, but the city disagreed with the state and asked that the work not be done. Instead the city proposed the boulevard concept. The state refused that. So the state changed Phase 2 to Phase 1 which was improving the Olgati Bridge. Because of this the other phases have been adjusted accordingly. Phase 3 is now Phase 2 and Phase 1 is now Phase 3.

"The question now is since TDOT will be maintaining Interstate standards will the highway will again be known as I-124, or will we just continue to call it US-27?" [7note]

Funny Exit Numbering

Hairline (from AOL) writes: "On the Chattanooga map though, there are interchange numbers for US 27, but only 1 and 1C. Without knowledge of I-124, one might wonder why TDOT didn't give exit numbers to the other 22 miles of US 27. But, even with knowledge of I-124, where the hell are exits 1A and 1B?" [3note]

Dan Moraseski replies: "Exits 1A and 1B are combined into exit 1 on the map.

1A-B=SSR 316
1C=SSR 389
1C=SSR 389
1B=SSR 316 WB
1A=SSR 316 EB" [4note]

Adam Froehlig adds: "Exit 1 is actually a totally separate exit from Exit 1AB. Exit 1 is northbound only, and is for Main Street. Exit 1AB would be for SSR 316, although it is not signed as such, and SSR 316 is not marked, so it's probably a hidden route. Exit 1C may be for SSR 389, but it's actually signed for TN 58 North. Here's how the exits go:


Exit 1 - Main Street, Downtown, Visitor Info Center
Exit 1AB - Martin Luther King Blvd, Downtown
Exit 1C - TN 58 N, 4th Street, Downtown

Exit 1C - TN 58 N, 4th Street, Downtown
Exit 1B - Martin Luther King Blvd West
Exit 1A - Martin Luther King Blvd East, Downtown
(unnumbered) - I-24, Atlanta, Nashville

There was only one I-124 sign that I noticed, and believe me, I was looking hard for them. The single remaining one is southbound, just after you cross the river, and appeared to be an older one.

The US 127 extension to the north is indeed Interstate standards (as John Cain mentioned), and is actually 6 lanes between US 127 and Morrison Springs Rd. The freeway section extends up to the TN 111 exit, giving the full freeway from I-24 to TN 111 a length of 22.8 miles (based on my tachometer).

Hope this helps..." [6note]

"Hey, I've got an idea..."

In late 1999, Mr. Froehlig wrote the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Here's the transcript:

Subject:         Question RE: I-124 in Chattanooga
   Date:         Mon, 06 Dec 1999 12:35:04 -0600
   From:        "Ralph Comer"
Mr. Froehlig,
Yes, Interstate 124 is still officially designated as part of
Tennessee's interstate system.  It is a spur route extending from
Interstate 24 northward to the Olgiati Bridge crossing the Tennessee
River.  Several years ago we developed a plan to widen the facility;
however, the City of Chattanooga asked that an independent study be
undertaken that would be less intrusive into the downtown area.  That
study, completed by Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade and Douglas recommends a
signalized boulevard concept with a median.  No funding has been
identified to date to develop the project further.
Thank you for your inquiry.
Adam Froehlig 12/05/99 12:17PM
Does I-124 still exist?  If so, are there any plans for it?



  1. Route Log and Finder List - Interstate Highways, FHWA, Oct. 31, 2002.
  2. Cain, John J. "I-124." Personal email, July 1, 1998.
  3. Hairline (at aol.com)
  4. Moraseski, Dan. "I-124 exit 1C mystery solved!" Personal email, Nov. 27, 1998.
  5. Riddle, William S. "just a few updates on certain 3di's." Personal email, May 3, 1997.
  6. Froehlig, Adam. "Side notes on I-124." Personal email, July 17, 1999.
  7. Cain, John III. "I-124." Personal email, Oct. 18, 2004.