While a project to work on just a touch more than a mile of highway may not seem like a big deal, it is definitely a step in the right direction for the Southwest Illinois Connector project.
The Southwest Illinois Connector project is intended to create a four lane divided highway connecting southern Illinois to the St. Louis Metro East area. And while the idea has been around for about 50 years, in recent years the project has gained some traction.
The proposed Southwest Illinois Connector would cut down on commute times, provide better access, help tourism and industries expand and grow, reduce large truck traffic issues, as well as increase safety. Specifically in the aspect of safety, the connector would reduce the number of accidents reported along these stretches of rural highway, as well as allow for quicker response time by first responders and faster/better access to hospitals.
A report from the Southwest Illinois Connector Task Force did note that this project would be expensive, with an estimated cost of $805 million. It would, however, be broken into three phases: State Route 3 south of Waterloo to Red Bud to State Route 4 near the World Shooting and Recreational Complex; State Route 4 near the World Shooting and Recreational Complex to State Route 154 east of Sparta to the Pinckneyville western city limits; and State Route 154 at the Pinckneyville western city limits to State Route 13/127 to north of Murphysboro.
On July 6, Marc Kiehna, who serves as the chairman for the Randolph County Board of Commissioners, the Four County Highway Coalition and the Southwest Illinois Connector Task Force, gave an update on the project.
For more information on this project, please see this week’s print edition.