I-66 going through Cape increasingly unlikely

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

The I-66 project, the dream of an east-west corridor linking Virginia and California, has been in the planning stages for more than a decade.

The latest movement was a public information workshop at the Missouri Department of Transportation office in Sikeston, Mo. Representatives of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet began the process of determining what role Cape Girardeau may have in the I-66 process.

There were no routes outlined at the meeting, and virtually no members of the actual public that were supposed to be informed. However, there were officials from various agencies hoping to get a piece of the action. Among them were Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce president John Mehner and Mayor Jay Knudtson.

The city council has committed $8,000 for a lobbyist if Cape Girardeau County, Jackson and Southeast Missouri State University all commit money for the same thing. The lobbyist would fight to keep a federal order that I-66, if it's ever built, must go through Illinois. That would help ensure the interstate would have to cross the city's new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge.

It's time to admit that the project is at an impasse, and there is little point of investing in it.

The federal order says I-66 must run through Illinois. Illinois officials have absolutely no intention of participating in the project, meaning the interstate won't run through Cape Girardeau. If the order is changed and the project skips Illinois, I-66 will run well south of here.

In these times when every dollar counts, it doesn't seem prudent to spend money for lobbyists for unlikely projects.

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