Highway 49

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US Highway 49 is a primary North-South Federal highway that runs through Hattiesburg. It is, along with Highway 11, one of the original 1926 US Highway routes. Its southern terminus is at the intersection of US Highway 90 in Gulfport, MS, and its northern terminus is in Pigott, AR.

General History

US Highway 49, being one of the original 1926 US Highway routes, went through both rural and developed areas. From the outset, Highway 49 connected the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the State Capitol, Jackson, with a direct route. But Highway 49 went much further north, well into the Mississippi Delta, terminating in Clarksdale, MS.

Despite its designation (at the time) as a federal interstate highway, Highway 49 began and ended in Mississippi. It was extended from Clarksdale to Brinkley, AR in 1963, and further extended close to the Arkansas/Missouri state line, in Pigott, AR, in 1979.

In Forrest County

Although Highway 49 has always run through Hattiesburg and Forrest County, over time, there have been significant alterations to the original route.

In the 1930's, Highway 49 was realigned west of the original route. For a couple of years, Highway 49 was split into "east" and "west" alignments in Forrest County. But by 1938, the east and west alignments were abandoned, reverting to its pre-split routing. The Highway 49 East and West alignments still exist in Forrest County, though as county and city roads. James St. is the extant part of old Highway 49E in Hattiesburg, while parts of Edwards St. and Elks Lake Road are part of old Highway 49W.

In Hattiesburg

The original Highway 49 in Hattiesburg encompassed Bay and Main Streets, which meant it ran directly through Downtown Hattiesburg. In the 1930's, Lakeview Road was part of Highway 49, but was moved north of Hercules in order to connect Petal, and Highway 11. This became part of Mississippi Highway 42.

In 1947, the routing of Highway 49 in Hattiesburg was moved again, this time to the (then) western edges of the town, near USM. Parts of an existing street, North 26th Avenue, were used in the new alignment. The new, and present, alignment, designed to accomodate four lanes of traffic, began at Edwards Street, and continued to the intersection of Mississippi Highway 42.

For several decades, parts of Mississippi Highway 24/US Highway 98 ran concurrently on Highway 49. The highways junctioned on Highway 49, near McCallum, MS to West Hardy St, where 24/98 continued west.

Today, Highway 49 retains its 1948 routing. Its importance as a direct route to Mississippi's Capitol, Jackson,and its cultural significance, are undisputed. The highway is fully four-laned, one of the first in the state.

The bridge at the Highway 49/Broadway Drive cloverleaf

Current places

Former places