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Highway options narrowed down

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

SIKESTON - Officials have narrowed it down to just a handful possibilities for an I-66 Interstate Highway project linking Missouri and Kentucky.

"We started with 22 options, narrowed it down to seven, and now we're down to two interstate alternatives, two bridge alternatives, a 'no-build' alternative and the hybrid alternative," said Barbara Michael, project manager for the Parsons Brinckerhoff consulting firm, during Tuesday's I-66 public meeting.

The "no-build" alternative would improve existing highways, specifically extending Highway 60 east in Kentucky to LaCenter, according to Michael.

The first build option would basically follow Kentucky 286 to Wickliffe, Ky., Michael said. Under this plan, a new bridge would be built either just south of Wickliffe or about four miles farther south.

The Coast Guard has advised a bridge just south of Wickliffe could not have any piers in the water due to turbulence from the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

The second build alternative would have the interstate enter Illinois at Paducah, Ky., and somehow make its way to enter Missouri at the Emerson Memorial Bridge at Cape Girardeau.

The hybrid alternative would extend Highway 60 as a four-lane highway to either of the two Wickliffe bridge locations, but the highway would not be up to interstate standards - not having, for example, fully-controlled access.

Missouri Department of Transportation District Engineer Scott Meyer said while the hybrid alternative would not be a part of I-66, it would address many of the same issues that an interstate would.

"This is the last public meeting," said Michael. She reported the Kentucky meeting held Monday had 82 officials attend.

The next step - level 3 analysis - will examine the bridge issue with both the Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; refine cost estimates on the bridges and other parts of the project; and refine traffic forecasting.

The results of this final analysis will be released to area media and posted on the Internet at www. interstate66.com and www.kytc.state.ky.us/planning/pl-project....