I-66 corridor project connecting Paducah and Cape Girardeau delayed

In another road block for a connecting corridor, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced it will discontinue a multi-state highway study.

IDOT began the Interstate 66 study to build the new road in 2012. Because of the expanse of the project, it required participation from the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The I-66 corridor project would have connected Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Paducah. It would extend from from Cape Girardeau through Southern Illinois counties and Interstate 57 to Paducah.

IDOT says the delay is from Kentucky, but KYTC says it needs to focus on other projects for now. The delay has some businesses counting on this major project disappointed.

The manager of Plaza Tire in Paducah, Danny Woods, says a busy business means a good business. But Woods says he knows how business could be better. Plaza Tire's headquarters is located in Cape Girardeau. Woods says lacking a more direct route west means more time and money spent on the road for the company.

"If we were able to get the products in here faster and more efficiently, that's going to be passed onto our customers," Woods says.

KYTC spokesman Keith Todd say the cabinet needs to see more traction. Todd says right now the main focus is Interstate 69, but IDOT is going to focus its study on the smaller Southern Illinois counties. Todd says focusing on I-69 doesn't mean KYTC can't multitask.

"Once we get to a point of trying to get I-66 to move forward, it will be a very simple thing for us to pick up and go on," Todd says

But Woods says work can't come soon enough.

"Having that corridor open up, basically, time is money," Woods says. "And the time we live in today, everybody's in a hurry."

IDOT will focus the study in its Southern Illinois counties- Alexander, Pulaski, and Union counties. The study will begin within the next year.

Missouri Department of Transportation District Design Engineer Barry Horst says the department will continue to help with research and the study in the future.

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