"If the plans were finalized today it would be decades before the route is completed in Missouri."
Two weeks ago feathers were flying when Missouri Department of Transportation District Engineer Scott Meyer appeared to favor a Cape Girardeau proposal to route Interstate 66 across the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge in Cape Girardeau instead of a plan to construct a new bridge near Wycliff, Ky. and link the planned interstate with Highway 60 near Charleston. The comments drew an angry response from Sikeston officials who have been part of the discussions for years.
Well maybe Meyer was misunderstood because now it appears he isn't supporting the Cape Girardeau plan afterall.
In a July 18 letter to area officials, Meyer said a decision on the proposed interstate through Missouri is far from finalized. He said MoDot officials were open to all options and possibilities.
Meyer said there are three major considerations that will weigh-in on the final route of the interstate through Missouri. First, he said the Highway 60 route would be much more cost-effective than constructing a new route to interstate standards. From Sikeston's standpoint, that's good news. He also said it would not necessarily be a wise or prudent investment to build a new bridge when several others already exist. That, from Sikeston's standpoint, is not necessarily good news. And finally Meyer said that Illinois has declined to participate in the project. That again, from Sikeston's standpoint, is great news because without Illinois, it makes no sense to try and cross the southern tip of that state to route the road through Cape Girardeau.
Let's understand something here and now about I-66. If the plans were finalized today it would be decades before the route is completed in Missouri. And long before the first shovel of dirt is turned, it will take many more years of study and evaluation. In other words, don't plan a trip on the roadway anytime soon.
But regardless of the timeframe, a route that would potentially bring the interstate through Sikeston remains a wonderful opportunity and possibility. Years down the road it's possible that I-66 will bring thousands upon thousands of potential customers and visitors to our doorsteps daily. In a small way, it may be an important ingredient to the future of this region.
We're encouraged that Meyer took the time to clarify his position and the position of the Department of Transportation. In our hearts we believe that the Highway 60 route is the best for motorists and taxpayers. But we also recognize that Cape wants this roadway in the worst way and the battle is far from over.
In fact, it has yet to begin.