Highway connecting southern Illinois to St. Louis could be a real possibility

A straight shot from Southern Illinois to St. Louis could save time and gas. And it could be built in the future.
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 5:13 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2023 at 5:29 PM CST
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MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (KFVS) - A straight shot from southern Illinois to St. Louis could save time and gas; and it could be in the near future.

Will Stephens is the mayor of Murphysboro and the chairman of the Southwest Connector Coalition.

He said the new highway could connect many of the smaller communities on the way to St. Louis.

“This particular highway, the way that it is been drawn, it would go past the World Shooting Recreational Complex, it would help the Du Quoin State Fair, it would help SIU, it would help the soon-to-be shuttered Baldwin Energy power plant, it would help the Sparta Industrial Park,” he said.

The plan dates back to the 1960s. He said it’s brought back into the spotlight now due to Former President Donald Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

Steven Mitchell, Carbondale’s economic development director, said it will bring development back to southern Illinois.

“I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve heard professionals, whether they’re business professionals, in education, health care, if they’re from out of state anywhere else outside the state of Illinois, one thing they always say that they have in common there’s no easy way to get to southern Illinois,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell said the highway route would be a major game changer for all of the cities along the route.

“Some of the most important things in econ development is transportation and access, and this addresses both of those issues because what it would do is you would create much safer, easier to travel route between metropolitan St. Louis and downtown Carbondale, downtown Murphysboro and all the communities along that route,” said Mitchell.

Building the route is not cheap, Stephens said the project would cost around $1 billion, but he said the local support is there.

“We have letters of support from over 100 various elected officials, businesses and non-profits now. So people see the value; and there’s federal funding now and that’s what makes the difference,” said Stephens.

He also said that they’re picking up support from the St. Louis area.

“We’re also starting to pick up support from St. Louis and from the Missouri side for this project. Because often times we think about us being connected to St. Louis and how that would help us, but leaders in the metro east are also seeing how their additional connectivity to us would be helpful to them,” said Stephens.

More information on this project could be found here.