When the Joint Board on Interstate Highways released its report on October 30, 1925, the proposed network of U.S. numbered highways did not include U.S. 82. The number was set aside for later use as the network of good roads improved.
It first appeared in 1932 when Mississippi State highway officials asked the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO), which controlled the numbering of U.S. routes, to designate a route in cooperation with Alabama. AASHO described the request:
Mississippi has requested a U.S. Numbered route across the State from Greenville to Columbus proposing that it should be extended eastward to Birmingham, Alabama, and westward through Arkansas. We have no requests from either Alabama or Arkansas for this route but we are informed that the State Highway Department of Arkansas has consulted with the Mississippi Department favorably on this subject. It is a logical route and would provide an east and west road in a large territory not now occupied by a numbered route. No information is at hand in reference to privately owned toll bridges.
AASHO added the reference to privately owned toll bridges because the owners of such bridges had been badgering the Executive Committee of AASHO to add U.S. numbered roads to feed traffic to their privately owned bridges. AASHO had been repulsing such efforts for several years.
After receiving a companion application from Arkansas, AASHO's Executive Committee approved the new two-State U.S. 82 on July 1, 1931. The description of the new route read:
United States Highway No. 82
Total Mileage, 376
Mississippi Beginning at Columbus 15, Artesia 13, Starkville 33, Eupora 30, Winona 29, Greenwood 35, Indianola 26, Greenville (ferry) 10.
Arkansas Lake Village 34, Hamburg 55, El Dorado 36, Magnolia 26, Lewisville 32, Texarkana.
(The numbers represent mileage from city to city.)
New U.S. 82 linked U.S. 45 in Columbus and U.S. 71 at Texarkana.
In June 1934, AASHO approved extension of the route at the request of the State highway agencies in Alabama and Texas:
United States Highway No. 82
Alabama Beginning at Tuscaloosa 65.
Mississippi Columbus 15, Artesia 13, Starkville 33, Eupora 30, Winona 29, Greenwood 35, Indianola 28, Greenville 10.
Arkansas Lake Village 34, Hamburg 55, El Dorado 36, Magnolia 26, Lewisville 32, Texarkana 30.
Texas New Boston 12, De Kalb 30, Clarksville 33, Henrietta 19, Wichita Falls 57, Seymour 24, Benjamin 33, Guthrie 36, Dickens 59, Lubbock.
The extended route was 946 miles long between U.S. 11 in Tuscaloosa and U.S. 385 in Lubbock.
By the time of the official AASHO log of U.S. numbered highways in 1939, the route was listed as 924 miles long, apparently because of improved roadway alignment in Mississippi. The log in that State showed some mileage changes:
Mississippi Columbus 22, Starkville 28, Eupora 30, Winona 27, Greenwood 30, Indianola 24, Greenville 27.
Further shortening had occurred by the 1942 log (904 miles).
At AASHO's mid-summer meeting in 1948, the U.S. Route Numbering Committee approved an extension of U.S. 82 to U.S. 1 in Waycross, Georgia:
U.S. 82 Extended from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Waycross, Georgia, by way of Centerville, Montgomery, Union Springs, Eufaula, Alabama, Georgetown, Georgia, Cuthbert, Dawson, Albany, Sylvester, Tifton, Alapaha, Pearson, and Waycross, Georgia.
The route was now 1,295 miles long.
On November 24, 1956, AASHO's Route Numbering Committee approved another extension:
Georgia US 82 Proposed extension of US 82 from Waycross begins at junction with US 1 and 84; thence northeast over State Route 38 through Blackshear, Patterson and Jessup; thence over US 25 and 301 to Ludowici; thence continuing over State Route 38 through Hinesville to US 17 in Midway.
On November 26, 1960, AASHO's Executive Committee denied a request to extend U.S. 82 into New Mexico. The action log described the request from Texas and New Mexico State highway officials:
This routing will begin at the present western terminus of the route in Lubbock thence over present U.S. 62 in a southwest direction to U.S. 380 in Brownfield, then west over U.S. 380 to Texas State Route 337 in Plains, then southwest over S.R 337 to the Texas-New Mexico State Line.
(New Mexico Section)
This routing will begin at the New Mexico-Texas State Line on New Mexico State Route 337 and run southwest to SR 83 in Lovington thence westerly on S.R. 83 via Artesia, Mayhill and Cloudcroft to U.S. 70 north of Alamogordo, thence southwest over U.S. 70 to junction with U.S. 80-85 in Las Cruces.
The action log provided the following explanation of why this request was not approved:
For the reason that the route through New Mexico is substandard at this time and does not fulfill the requirements for the establishment of a U.S. Route under paragraph 4, page 4 of the Purpose and Policy in the Establishment and Development of U.S. Numbered Highway as Revised by the Association on January 1, 1959.
The paragraph in question read:
No additional road shall be added to the U.S. numbered road system, and no existing U.S. road shall be extended except where there is a definite showing of an adequately improved highway carrying an established and necessary line of interstate traffic not otherwise provided for by existing U.S. routes and for which traffic adequate service cannot be provided by State route numbers.
Extension of present U.S. numbered routes may be made only when the proposed extension is in the general direction of the present route.
Proposed extensions shall not be made when, to do so, it is necessary to duplicate U.S. routes already established, unless the duplication is for a short distance and the routes then diverge, ending in different terminal points.
On June 18, 1963, AASHO's Route Numbering Committee accepted the proposed extension:
Beginning at the western terminus of US Route 82 in Lubbock at the junction of US Routes 62, 84 and 87, thence southwesterly over US Route 62 via Ropesville to junction with US 380 in Brownfield, thence west with US 380 to junction with State Route 337 in Plains, thence southwesterly to the Texas-New Mexico State Line on SR 337.
(New Mexico Section)
Beginning at the New Mexico-Texas State Line on State Route 337, thence southwesterly with SR 337 to junction with State Route 83 in Lovington, thence westerly with SR 83 via Maljamar, Artesia, Hope, Elk, Cloudcroft, to junction with US Routes 70-54 north of Alamogordo, thence southwesterly with US Route 70 via Alamogordo, Organ, to junction with US 85 in Las Cruces.
The route was extended east from Midway, Georgia, when the Route Numbering Committee of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (as AASHO is now called) met on June 25, 1979. In response to a request from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the committee approved the following:
Beginning at the intersection of U.S. 17 and U.S. 82 then east of SR 70 and southeast over SR 38 to the intersection of I-95.
The extension added only 3 miles to U.S. 82, which now terminated in Chester, Georgia.
Georgia again modified its portion of U.S. 82 in 1988. On December 2, 1988, the Route Numbering Committee approved the State's request to relocate U.S. 82 and 84:
Redesignate U.S. Route 82 between the present terminus at I-95 and the intersection of U.S. Route 84 east of Waycross as U.S. Route 84. Redesignate U.S. Route 84 between the intersection of present U.S. Route 82 east of Waycross and the intersection of I-95 and U.S. Route 82. Eliminate the remaining segment of present U.S. Route 84 between I-95 and the terminus in Brunswick.
This change moved the terminus of U.S. 82 to a junction with I-95 in Brunswick, Georgia, a total of 1,691 miles.
Brunswick and Las Cruces were the termini of U.S. 82 at the time, but New Mexico decided to eliminate the segment of U.S. 82 that shared the U.S. 70 roadway between Alamogordo and Las Cruces. As a result, U.S. 82 is now 1,625 miles long.