ILLINOIS (KFVS) - The 45-minute drive from Cape Girardeau to Interstate 57 in Illinois could be reduced to less than 20 minutes.
State leaders are still gathering evidence that there is a need for the new route.
Late in 2015, plans for an interstate that would connect Paducah to Cape Girardeau were shot down following complaints from environmentalist and some local leaders.
With the money left over from that project, the Illinois Department of Transportation started studying a smaller-scale highway, tentatively called the Shawnee Parkway, which would connect Cape Girardeau to I-57.
A similar route, Illinois 146, is currently at capacity, according to IDOT, but some Union County residents say they believe the traffic brings business.
"Everybody has to drive through here," said Union County resident Devin Scott Murphy on Thursday. "They see all the places to stop and shop and eat and all that, it helps our community grow and get money in."
"People say this project is going to kill us... we're already dying." Said Illinois Department of Transportation representative Carrie Nelson. "We need something. We could be a better community if we could have reliable transportation through this area. [If it was built, travel time could be as short as] just 16 minutes. People could live out here and work in Cape."
More than 1,200 semis travel through downtown Anna-Jonesboro on IL-146 on a daily basis.
The project is still in the first phase of planning, and the entire planning process would take more than three years.
IDOT announced on Thursday, Jan. 28 they are expanding the period for public input on the project to last the duration of the planning period.
If you want to share your thoughts with them, click here.