US 72 in Alabama

By | October 28, 2022


US 72
Get started margin
End Bridgeport
Length 168 mi
Length 270 km






According to bestitude, US 72 is a US Highway in the US state of Alabama. The road forms a 2×2 east-west route through the north of the state, passing through the cities of Florence and Huntsville. The route is 270 kilometers long.

Travel directions

US 72 at Scottsboro in Eastern Alabama.

US 72

In rural areas, US 72 in Mississippi crosses the state line with Alabama from Corinth, whereupon US 72 forms a 2×2 divided highway south of the Tennessee River, which is dammed here. The road initially leads through a wooded area with low hills. After 40 kilometers you reach a small urban area consisting of Tuscumbia, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Florence. US 72 Alternate then continues straight, US 72 turns north here through Muscle Shoals and then crosses the Tennessee River with US 43 via the O’Neal Bridge. You then pass through the center city of Florence, after which the US 72 turns north again. Just outside Florence, US 43 and US 72 split again.

The US 72 is then a 2×2 divided highway through flatter agricultural area north of the Tennessee River. The river has been dammed up and US 72 crosses tributaries of the reservoir several times. The environment here is more open, with meadows. After 60 kilometers, US 72 leads through the south side of the town of Athens, after which it crosses Interstate 65. US 72 then forms a 2×2 divided highway through semi-urban areas between Athens and Huntsville.

Huntsville is the largest city on the route and US 72 has 2×3 lanes here and is an urban arterial with many traffic lights. The road is formed by University Drive and runs right past the University of Alabama. At the center of Alabama it crosses US 431 and ends Interstate 565. The US 72 Alternate rejoins the US 72 here.

East of Huntsville, US 72 leads through a hilly area with valleys and forest. This part of US 72 is also a 2×2 divided highway, mostly a high-quality road with few traffic lights and occasional grade-separated connections. US 72 rejoins the Tennessee River at the town of Scottsboro, but continues north of it. US 72 then curves northeast to parallel the Tennessee River to the Tennessee state border, then US 72 continues in Tennessee to Chattanooga.

US 72 Alternate

The US 72 Alternate

Between Muscle Shoals and Huntsville is the US 72 Alternate, a 2×2 divided highway that continues south of the Tennessee River, crossing it at Decatur. At Muscle Shoals, US 72 from Mississippi merges seamlessly into US 72 Alternate, continuing east through an area of ​​mostly pastureland just south of the Tennessee River. Until Decatur there is only one real built-up area on the route, the village of Town Creek. There is a lot of industry in the area on the west side of Decatur. US 72 Alternate then cuts through Decatur and then crosses the Tennessee River with US 31. Shortly thereafter, both routes split and intersect with Interstate 65. After this, the US 72 Alternate crosses theInterstate 565 leads the freeway to the center of the town of Huntsville, after which the US 72 Alternate ends on the main route of US 72.


According to biotionary, US 72 was one of the original US Highways of 1926 and has always passed through northern Alabama. In Alabama, US 72 coincided with the Lee Highway, an auto trail. US 72 has always been an east-west link between Memphis and Chattanooga, passing through northern Mississippi and Alabama. In the 1950s, US 72 Alternate was added, a 109-mile route between Muscle Shoals and Huntsville, which extends south of the Tennessee River, allowing US 72 and US 72 Alternate to serve different traffic flows.

The US 72 was later integrally widened to a 2×2 divided highway, whereby quite large stretches were constructed over a completely new route. This was Corridor V of the Appalachian Development Highway System. The widening began in the early 1960s at the approach roads of Huntsville and Florence. The first slightly longer stretch of 2×2 lanes was between Athens and Huntsville. In about 1966, the section between the Mississippi and Tuscumbia borders was constructed over a new 2×2 lane route, largely south of the old US 72. This connected well with the US 72 Alternate to Decatur.

In the second half of the 1960s, the section from Florence to Athens was widened to 2×2 lanes, which was completed by 1970. With this, the two largest metropolitan areas of Northern Alabama had a 2×2 connection.

In the early 1970s, US 72 east of Huntsville began widening to 2×2 lanes. A significant portion of this between Woodville and Scottsboro was built over an entirely new route south of old US 72, completed by 1980.

Finally, the eastern portion of US 72 between Scottsboro and the Tennessee border has been widened to 2×2 lanes, beginning in the mid-1980s and largely on a new route. The doubling was completed by 1997.

US 72 Alternate

The US 72 Alternate.

The construction of US 72 Alternate between I-65 at Decatur and Huntsville as a 2×2 divided highway was also started in the mid-1960s. This would later be bypassed by Interstate 565 in the 1980s-90s.

In the 1960s, the US 72 Alternate between Muscle Shoals and Decatur was widened to 2×2 lanes. This started in the mid-1960s with the western approach road from Decatur. By 1970, the easternmost 20 miles of US 72 Alternate had been widened to 2×2 lanes. The western half lasted until about 1977-1978, after which the entire US 72 Alternate had 2×2 lanes.

Bridges Over the Tennessee River

The bridge of US 72 over the Tennessee River between Muscle Shoals and Florence is the O’Neal Bridge, a truss bridge built in 1939. This bridge ended in the center of Florence, which was impractical for through traffic. In about 2000, a new eastern bypass of Florence opened, including a large 2×3 lane bridge over the Tennessee River. However, US 72 was never passed over it, the bypass has remained numbered as State Route 157.

The first bridge over the Tennessee River in Decatur opened in 1925 and was a large bascule bridge. In 1963 a second cantilever truss bridge was built next to it, providing 2×2 lanes of traffic. In 1999 a modern girder bridge opened as a third bridge, the bridge from 1928 was then decommissioned and demolished shortly afterwards. This bridge is part of US 72 Alternate and US 31.

Traffic intensities

Every day, 9,000 to 11,000 vehicles drive between the Mississippi border and Muscle Shoals and 31,000 vehicles on the O’Neal Bridge in Florence. Between Florence and Athens 10,000 to 16,000 vehicles and 20,000 vehicles between Athens and Huntsville. Up to 60,000 vehicles drive through Huntsville. This drops to 15,000 vehicles between Huntsville and Scottsboro and 10,000 to 15,000 vehicles between Scottsboro and the Tennessee border.

US 72 in Alabama