There are multiple Routes, State Highways, and Interstates that one can take in order to access the inside of Memphis, Tennessee. We shall discuss them here.
First off, there is Interstate 55, or I-55 for short. It comes from the south, from Southaven, and exits to the east of Memphis, through the Mississippi River, and into the state of Arkansas. It has interchanges with Interstates 69 and 240, as well as Routes 51 and 61. This Interstate is a good one if you wish to access the downtown of Memphis.
Then there’s Interstate 240(shortened to I-240), I-240 is a 20-mile-long (30 km | all numbers rounded off) Auxiliary Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of Tennessee. It forms a loop with its parent Interstate 40 close to the eastern areas of Memphis. It travels from an interchange with I-40 east of downtown to an interchange with I-40, US 79, and Sam Cooper Boulevard in East Memphis, providing access to Memphis International Airport and the eastern neighborhoods. The section in East Memphis around Walnut Grove Road is the busiest interstate in Tennessee, with an AADT of just under 200,000 vehicles. The western leg of I-240 has been approved to be signed as I-69.
There’s Interstate 40(I-40). Crossing from the west on the Hernando de Soto Bridge and into Downtown Memphis, it takes a sharp turn north at the interchange with Interstate 69. At an interchange with I-69 further north, it shifts to the east, along the Wolf River. It then moves south sharply at the intersection with Jackson Avenue, then, near Berclair, it forms an interchange with Interstate 240 and Route 79, before veering into the northeast, exiting Memphis at an intersection with Route 64.
Interstate 69, or I-69 abbreviated, as for now, is exclusive only to the Memphis city area. Formerly the western leg of Interstate 240, it starts at an interchange with Interstates 55 and 240, and goes north as Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Expressway, intersecting with S Pkwy E, Routes 51 and 78, and Interstate 40, becoming concurrent with the last one. It splits from I-40 at Wolf River, and ends at the interchange with Route 51.
Then there is Interstate 269, which barely goes through the administrative area of Memphis, only passing by the eastern panhandle of the city. In order to enter Memphis using this route, coming from the south, take the interchange near Coillerville and Piperton into Route 72. If coming from the north using Route 51, stay your course, no need to use the Interstate. Coming from the east, use the interchanges between I-269 and I-40 or Route 79.
Coming from Lake View in the south, Route 61 is one you should take to access much of South Memphis and a part of downtown. It first intersects with Interstate 55, before turning west sharply at E.E.H. Crump Boulevard, forming another interchange with I-55 and becoming concurrent with it, crossing the Mississippi River together out of Memphis.
Route 51 also comes from the south, this time parallel to I-55 and coming from the same area – Southaven. It forms an interchange with Interstates 69 and 240 near Nonconnah. Then continues northwards, crossing Central Gardens. After it becomes concurrent with Route 79 at an intersection with it, turning west in the process. And then splits from Route 79 at the intersection between Union Avenue and South Danny-Thomas Boulevard, moving north in a wavy manner as Thomas Street. Then it forms an interchange with the Interstate 69, ending the latter. It exits the city near Firestone Park.
Coming from the southeast corner of Memphis, Route 78 cuts through much of Memphis, intersecting with Interstates 240 and 69. It goes through much of Orange Mound, Cooper-Young, Central Gardens, and Medical District, before hitting its terminus at 2nd Street in Memphis’ downtown. This is a good route to take in order to enjoy as much of Memphis.
Route 79 comes from Arkansas along with Routes 70 and 64.
Route 72 comes from the east, coming through Eastern Memphis.