ALEXANDER COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - After five weeks of closure, Illinois Route 3 between Alexander County and Route 146 will open Friday, July 26 at 2 p.m.
According to Keith Miley, Operations Engineer for IDOT District 9 office, the plan is to hopefully open both sides of the road on Friday. However, if not enough water recedes by then, it may just be one lane of traffic again.
This closure has been the cause of many Heartland headaches over the past month. Since it closed, people have been forced to take long detours on I-55 and I-57 and over the Chester Bridge to get between southeast Missouri and southern Illinois.
For business owners like Greg Schemel at Ware Produce, this closure has been hurting his bottom line. He depends on the traffic between Cape Girardeau and southern Illinois along Route 3 for business.
“As soon as it shut down we’ve been ready for it to open back up again,” Schemel said. "There’s some days where it’s just a ghost town.”
Since the road closed, he said the most people coming into his store are confused truckers who didn’t know the Route 3 was closed, despite the signs. It even got to the point where he posted directions to Cape Girardeau on his front door.
Of course, this route opening is seen as great news by regular drivers like Jonathan Bridges from Elco.
Bridges said between running errands and his wife working in Cape Girardeau, he goes there just about every day. When he spoke to Heartland News reporters, he was taking the levee between McClure and East Cape Girardeau, Ill. since the detours have been so long and tedious.
“It makes a normal 30 minute drive about an hour and a half,” he said. “It’s annoying. That and with gas prices and stuff and wear and tear on the vehicle.”
Bridges, like many, said he just doesn’t want to see this route close again any time soon.
Another person impacted by the closure is Dan Ryder. He’s the Director of Case Management and Social Services at SoutheastHEALTH in Cape Girardeau but lives in Murphysboro, IL.
“A four hour commute every day to an hour and a half to two hours, depending on traffic.”
The four hour commute is Ryder’s detour around the Route 146 and Route 3 closures.
“With the kids at home, sometimes that is a little bit of a time crunch so trying to get in on time. But with my role, sometimes you just don’t get out on time. But it does add a lot of extra stress to home life that’s for sure," he said.
It also brings challenges at the hospital during patient discharges.
“The big issues we’ve had is trying to get people home to Illinois, so patients and things like that," said Ryder.
But with the end in sight, the inconveniences and problems of taking a detour will be over soon.
“I was kind of surprised when they told me that they bridge had opened into East Cape last week for the residents and was very excited when they said possibly by the end of Friday this week on Friday they would open it. So I’m very excited about being able to get home on time," said Ryder.