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 originally planned to extend Interstate 66 (I-66) from its current western terminus at Middletown, Virginia, across the country to California. The route west of Kansas was not favored by any of the related state highway departments with the result that I-66 west of Wichita, Kansas, through New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California was cancelled. Among the reasons for this were lack of interest from any of the state highway departments was the insufficient projected traffic did not justify an Interstate, especially since many segments had no pre-existing highway. The environmental impact of the route has high because of the need to cross the Death Valley National Park which the National Park Service was strongly opposed. The choice for the number I-66 was a hope to capitalize on the decommissioned U.S. Route 66 (US 66). The case for westward expansion of I-66 was started by businesspeople in Wichita. Furthermore, there were no plans to build I-66 across the West Virginia–Virginia state line, leaving Interstate 66 a non-contiguous highway. The I-66 concept was supported in Kentucky mainly because of the efforts of Congressman Hal Rogers, however the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet concluded its feasibility study in 2005 and concluded that building I-66 was too costly and of little traffic benefit with high potential environmental impact and cancelled the I-66 project in Kentucky.
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 required going through Shawnee National Forest, the second was cross the Mississippi River with a new bridge, then follow I-57 to Sikeston, where it would have followed US 60 westward to Springfield. Sikeston would have been the convergence point of three Interstates, I-55 to St. Louis and Memphis, I-57 to Chicago, and I-66 to Kentucky, 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 17, 2011, the Illinois Department of Transportation received $3.7 million to conduct the 66 Corridor Study a feasibility study that would investigate 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 I-66 concept was heavily opposed in Illinois from farmers to environmentalist be of the plan to cross the Shawnee National Forest. The Federal Highway Administration and the Illinois Department of Transportation cancelled the 66 Corridor Study July 9, 2015.
I-66 was planned to cross the Mississippi River east of Cape Girardeau, then continue east on a new alignment to I-24 north of Paducah. It would have followed I-24 east to Eddyville, where it would have turned 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 was controversial, 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. Construction was completed in 2011 on a less controversial segment in western Pulaski County, relocating the eastern terminus of the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway to US 27.
West Virginia and east
The western segment of I-66 was 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 was ever planned between there and the current existing routing of I-66 in Virginia and the District of Columbia, which would made I-66 a non-contiguous Interstate. Travel between the two segments of freeway was possible only by using a combination of U.S 119 Corridor G of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS), I-79, and U.S. 48 Corridor H of the ADHS. However, there were no plans to upgrade US 119 to interstate standards.
A completed I-66 would not have strictly complied 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.
- "I-66". transportation.ky.gov. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- "seMissourian.com: Local News: Cape city leaders announce funding for I-66 feasibility study (08/19/11)". seMissourian.com. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- "Corridor 66 | Citizens for Southernmost Illinois". citizensforsouthernillinois.org. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- "Illinois Department of Transportation Press Release" (PDF). Corridor 66. 2015-07-09.
- "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