One step closer to Interstate from Paducah to Southeast Missouri - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

One step closer to Interstate from Paducah to Southeast Missouri

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

A big step forward Thursday toward a short-cut between two of the Heartland's biggest cities.

As of now, it takes at least an hour and 15 minutes to get from Cape Girardeau to Paducah. You could go through Anna to Vienna then onto I-24, or you could go to Wickliffe and take either 60-62 or 286.

But, a proposed interstate could shorten that trip by more than 45 minutes.

Thursday afternoon Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger announced that the Federal government gave Illinois more than $16 million in grants for transportation projects, $3.6 million of that is for a study to find the most feasible way from Paducah to I-55 in Missouri.

Walter Wildman has been an active advocate for a cross country Interstate 66 from Washington D.C. to California for more than 20 years. He says this section from Paducah to I-55 in Missouri has been is main goal of the project the whole time.

"It just connects a lot of transportation venues such as I-24 to the whole Southeast and we're sort of cut off because of that Southern Illinois gap and the idea is to take it on further West and connect with other North-South highways and put us more in touch with things," said Wildman.

Wildman says over the 20 years of lobbying for an interstate, he says the idea never died, just slowed down.

Some wonder, will it happen this time?

Cape Girardeau City Manager Scott Meyer says he's never known a project not completed, once the survey for a specific route was done.

"When you actually study a route, when you actually have an environmental impact statement, that says here's what you have to do in order to build here, it's really the beginning of construction," said Meyer.

"I'm very confident that this project will come to fruition," said Rediger.

Mayor Rediger says he's confident the route will go through Cape Girardeau. He says the town already has a strong bridge crossing the Mississippi to connect to I-55.

City leaders say this Interstate would bring big changes to the area.

"Industry will think more about placing here than they have before because of the ease of transportation of other goods in and out so it will do a general economic development improvement," said Wildman.

"There's so much industry that requires transportation, and we have air, we have rail, we have great North-South interstate connections, we lack the East-West," said Rediger.

"It makes us closer as communities because 45 minutes is just such a different trip," said Meyer.

Mayor Rediger says he expects Illinois to bid out the survey project within the next year.

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