Friday, August 19, 2011

Cape Girardeau-to-Paducah interstate connection is on the horizon

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - An interstate highway between Cape Girardeau and Paducah is one step closer to reality.

Cape Girardeau city officials announced Monday a three point six million dollar grant for a feasibility study from the United States Department of Transportation.

The highway will run from Interstate 55, cross the Mississippi River at the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge at Cape Girardeau, and hook up with Interstate 24 in Illinois, which leads into Paducah.

The study will look at the highway’s impact on the environment and archaeological sites. It also takes into account forest mitigation in the Shawnee National Forest, according to Cape Girardeau City Manager Scott Meyer.

"After that study’s complete, then you’ll have an actual route, you won’t have a design, but you’ll a route that says its going to go here and here’s what it’s going to look like and here’s how many interchanges," Meyer says. "Then they begin to pull off projects and turn those into construction projects."

Travel time between Cape Girardeau and Paducah will be reduced from an hour and a half to 45 minutes.

The highway will be part of the Interstate 66 project that will eventually run from coast to coast.

Walt Wildman is the past director of the I-66 Project. He says the so-called “East-West Trans American Corridor” is being put together piece by piece.

"There are quite a few sections in the east in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky, that are under construction. But they may not have that name on it," Wildman says. "You can go down I-24, you’ll see signs that say ‘Future Site of I-66.’ Out in Kansas, U.S. 400 is a result of this work. It goes into the southwest corner of Kansas and then down in to Colorado that way."

Wildman would not elaborate on the proposed route, but said it would likely go through Ullin.

The Illinois Department of Transportation wrote the grant proposal.

The study will likely take at least two years.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU


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