Interstate 66 (Kansas–Kentucky)
The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 designated the East-West TransAmerica Corridor as High Priority Corridor 3. The U.S. Department of Transportation planned to extend Interstate 66 (I-66) from its current western terminus at Middletown, Virginia across the country to California. Since that time, all of the proposed route of I-66 west of Wichita, Kansas has been postponed, with the Nevada and California sections cancelled. Among the reasons for this were lack of interest in the western states, insufficient traffic for an interstate in the area (in fact, in some places there was no pre-existing highway), and the route was to go through Death Valley National Park (to which the National Park Service was strongly opposed). The choice for the number 66 was to capitalize on U.S. Route 66 (US 66). The case westward expansion of I-66 was started by businesspeople in Wichita. Furthermore, there are currently no plans to build I-66 across the West Virginia–Virginia state line, which would leave this interstate with non-contiguous sections.
I-66 was planned to extend west from I-44 near Joplin, Missouri, to Wichita, Kansas. US 400 follows the route that I-66 would have followed. Due to the construction cost and lack of facilities, plans to extend I-66 west of Wichita have been postponed.
Missouri has had several proposals to bring I-66 through the state. Currently, the two ideas for consideration are bringing I-66 from Kentucky through Illinois to Cape Girardeau (which would require going through Shawnee National Forest), or bringing the route through close to the current bridges by Wyatt to Sikeston, where it could overlap the current US 60 westward. Illinois has only recently gained interest in bringing I-66 through the state. If Cape Girardeau and Illinois cannot lure Congress to modify the route through there, Sikeston may eventually be the convergence point of three Interstates, I-55 to St. Louis and Memphis, I-57 to Chicago, and the new I-66 to Kentucky and Washington, D.C., in addition to the considerable pieces of the U.S. Highway System already present there, such as US 60, US 61, and US 62.
On August 19, 2011, officials in Cape Girardeau announced a $3.6 million grant had been secured by the Illinois Department of Transportation to study a route between Cape Girardeau on the Mississippi River and Paducah, Kentucky, on the Ohio River. The route would utilize the existing Interstate 24 bridge at Paducah and new four-lane bridge at Cape Girardeau. The state will hire a consulting group to do the study. Work on it is expected to begin in 2012. Illinois last held a public hearing on the proposed corridor in 2003.
I-66 is planned to cross the Mississippi River east of Cape Girardeau, then continue east on a new alignment to I-24 north of Paducah. It will then follow I-24 east to Eddyville, where it will turn northeast following I-69/Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway to the William H. Natcher Parkway, then turn southeast following the Natcher Parkway to I-65 near Bowling Green. Former Governor Paul Patton had I-66 written into law in Kentucky, with the routing being confirmed along the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway. That state-supported designation has been echoed at the federal level; the 2002 federal highway authorization act authorized a future Interstate between I-57 in southeast Missouri and the I-73/I-74 proposed corridor in West Virginia, a few miles east of the Kentucky state line. This route is not without controversy, however; opponents note that the segment between London and Somerset, currently served by the two- to four-lane Kentucky Route 80, would risk damaging delicate karst formations and environmentally sensitive areas of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Between London and Hazard, I-66 would parallel or replace the Super two Hal Rogers Parkway. The interstate would then turn northeast toward Pikeville and east to West Virginia.
West Virginia and east
The western segment of I-66 is proposed to end at the I-73/I-74 proposed corridor in West Virginia, a few miles east of the Kentucky state line. No direct connection is currently planned between there and the current existing routing of I-66 in Virginia and the District of Columbia, which would leave I-66 with non-contiguous segments. Travel between the two segments by freeway will be possible using a combination of Corridor G of the Appalachian Development Highway System (US 119), I-79, and Corridor H of the ADHS (US 48). However, there are no approved plans to upgrade US 119 or US 48 to interstate standards.
A completed I-66 would not be in strict compliance with AASHTO numbering plan standards for the Interstate Highway System, since most of it would actually travel south of existing I-64. Similar condition exists (1) where I-75 and I-85 cross over, along the Downtown Connector in Atlanta, Georgia; (2) where I-74 and I-70 cross over at Indianapolis, Indiana; and (3) where I-65 and the anticipated extension of I-69 will cross; so it is not without precedent. I-99 in Pennsylvania is also out of sequence, though its designation was written into law by its Congressional sponsor, Bud Shuster, not designated by AASHTO. However, I-64 doesn't yet exist west of Greater St. Louis, so west of around Poplar Bluff, this section of I-66 would comply with AASHTO, since the western terminus of I-64 is at this longitude.
Another concern is that the proposed route of I-66 in Missouri and Kansas would cross the former path of historic US 66. However, as the US highway has been decommissioned, there would be no official route numbering conflicts. Proposed expansions of other Interstate corridors are expected to have intersections with similarly numbered active US highways, such as the future intersection of I-69 and US 69 in Texas, and I-74 and US 74 in North Carolina.
- Bliss, Mark (May 7, 2003). "Routes for proposed I-66 narrowed to four". Southeast Missourian.
- Bliss, Mark (November 2, 2006). "Illinois, Kentucky to study I-66 routes". Southeast Missourian.
- Miller, Melissa (Aug 19, 2011). "Cape city leaders announce funding for I-66 feasibility study". Southeast Missourian.
- "IDOT Schedules Public Meeting to Discuss I-66 (TransAmerica Corridor)". Illinois Department of Transportation.
- "Kentucky Official Interstate 66 Web Site". Retrieved September 12, 2006.
- Information on origin and future plans of I-66
- Kentucky's Official Site for the Proposed Interstate 66
- Curtis Tate and Greg Gordon, After millions of dollars, I-66 and I-69 are Kentucky's interstates to nowhere, McClatchy Newspapers, February 2, 2013