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U.S. 24 and Indiana 25 (Corridor 4)


The "Hoosier Heartland Industrial" Corridor is geared at developing central Indiana and northwestern Ohio by providing a convenient route from Lafayette, Indiana, to Fort Wayne and ultimately to Toledo, Ohio. Starting in Lafayette, the Hoosier Heartland Corridor follows Indiana 25 northeast to U.S. 24. Then the corridor follows U.S. 24 through Fort Wayne to Toledo. Much of this route is planned along two-lane, rural highways, with the exception of a few town bypasses and some four-laned sections near Fort Wayne and Toledo. Initial plans call for this corridor to be upgraded to four-lane expressway standard. It is possible that this highway may be improved to Interstate standards someday, but it is not planned for that kind of upgrade now. A map is available at the U.S. Route 24 Official Web Site, Fort Wayne to Toledo.

According to Aaron Renn, the outlook for Corridor 4 is fairly bright. The state of Indiana, under Governor O'Bannon's Crossroads 2000 plan, just allocated approximately $115 million in special funding to start construction of various segments linking Lafayette and Ft. Wayne. This is being built as a four-lane divided highway, but not as a freeway.

Aaron indicates that according to INDOT sources, Indiana is constructing a four-lane, divided surface arterial between Lafayette and Fort Wayne as the Hoosier Heartland Corridor, but there are no plans to make this a freeway. At this time, there are no plans to extend it west to Danville. TEA-21 contains funding for a study of the "Fort to Port" corridor linking Fort Wayne to Toledo. Indiana is cooperating with Ohio on this study, but no decisions have been made on this corridor. See the official Hoosier Heartland Highway/Indiana 25 Official Web Site for more information on planned improvements along State Route 25 from Lafayette to U.S. 24 at Logansport. See also U.S. 24 Official Website for U.S. 24 between Logansport and Toledo via Fort Wayne.

An eight-mile length of the Hoosier Heartland across the southern edge of Logansport was opened with official ceremony in 1999. On September 1, 2000, another major improvement to the U.S. 24 corridor in Cass and Miami County was completed. U.S. 24 was widened to four lanes with a 60 foot median from just west of the Cass-Miami County Line to a new interchange between U.S. 24 and U.S. 31. This improvement will mean that U.S. 24 is a four-lane, partially limited access highway from the west side of Logansport to the east side of Wabash. Fifteen miles of the Hoosier Heartland under construction between Wabash and Huntington, with expected completion of that segment in early October 2000. More information is available at Indiana DOT Webpage. (Thanks to Marc Fannin for the link.)

According to Nicholas Rothfuss, part of the urgency behind the Hoosier Heartland Corridor is safety. The U.S. 24 "Deathway" (as it has come to be known in the Toledo media) is a two-lane road with roughly 40% truck traffic. It certainly needs a major upgrade between Fort Wayne and Toledo. Both candidates for Ohio governor have promised to make the "Fort to Port" Highway as high priority. This area is sparsely developed, and there are already extant bypasses of the two most notable cities along the route (Defiance and Napoleon). There would be little need for any new terrain roadway, except for the small towns that would require a short bypass. The proximity of the Maumee River and the Fallen Timbers battlefield cause certain sections of U.S. 24 to be rerouted around Waterville. SAFETEA-LU of 2005 included additional money to continue to upgrade this corridor.

Extend Interstate 72 to the East?

At this time, the Hoosier Heartland Corridor is only being upgraded to expressway standards along Indiana 25 and U.S. 24. However, it is possible in the future that this route could be upgraded to Interstate compatible standards. I suspect that if this were to happen, Interstate 72 -- which currently runs from Hannibal, Missouri, east to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, via Springfield and Decatur -- could be extended northeast from the Champaign-Urbana area to Toledo.

Under this scenario, Interstate 72 would continue northeast in Danville via the Wabash River to Lafayette. As stated above, Indiana is currently in the process of upgrading U.S. 24 to a four-lane, non-limited access highway from Logansport to Peru. Apparently, this will be constructed along a completely new path north of the current road along the river. Then Interstate 72 will continue on to Wabash to Huntington, where it would meet Interstate 69.

Then the Interstate 72 freeway would continue from Fort Wayne to Toledo. Traffic counts indicate that an Interstate along U.S. 24 is certainly feasible. It is a terribly dangerous and congested stretch of road, with a significant truck count. Since Interstate 72 would link to Interstate 69, it would benefit the "Canada to Mexico" trade route.

This corridor could also become part of Interstate 76, or it may not become an Interstate at all.

Extending Interstate 72 to the West

In addition to its potential eastward extension, Interstate 72 is proposed to be extended westward from its current terminus in Hannibal, Missouri, to either Kansas City or St. Joseph, Missouri. Most of this extension is not under construction; however, Interstate 72 is now completed as far west as Hannibal, with plans to extend the freeway to U.S. 24 just west of Hannibal by 2004. The remaining route is not yet funded. This planned upgrade of Interstate 72 is not included in the ISTEA/NHS/TEA-21 legislation.

Interstate 72 and U.S. 36 were rerouted across a brand new, cable-stayed bridge (designated as the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge, same name as the old bridge) on September 16, 2000, when the new bridge was opened to traffic. As recently as 1998, the piers for this bridge were in the river, but the floor of the bridge had not been constructed yet at all. By September 16, 2000, the bridge opened to traffic. To fund the new bridge, Missouri and Illinois received a federal grant to build a new four-lane Mississippi River bridge to replace the old U.S. 36 Mark Twain Bridge to the north, according to a Missouri DOT newsletter.

Other expected improvements as indicated by Adam Froehlig that relate to Interstate 72 and the intersecting Avenue of the Saints include:

  • Reconstruction of the Interstate 72/U.S. 36 and U.S. 61 interchange into a single point urban interchange (SPUI) with a planned completion by the end of 2001
  • Extension of Interstate 72/U.S. 36 four-lane highway west to U.S. 24, including three interchanges (planned completion 2004)
  • Upgrade of U.S. 61 into Avenue of the Saints, including an upgrade of 6.9 miles of into four-lane highway from the Iowa state line to south of Wayland by 2004

For more information on this segment of future Interstate 72, check out Mark Roberts' excellent Interstate 72 Road Trip from August 1998. There are several pictures of the future Interstate 72 bridge, Missouri Interstate 72 signage, and the old "temporary end" signs that were present in Fall River, Illinois, prior to the completion of the Mark Twain Bridge.

On October 23, 2001, Grauto wrote on misc.transport.road, "Interstate 72 is now complete to the U.S. 61 junction in Hannibal, where MoDOT is finishing up (is this finished yet?) a SPUI conversion. Four-laning has just started west of this interchange; when it is finished (2004?), Interstate 72 will be signed to the U.S. 24 east intersection, where it will temporarily terminate. Judging by the exit number on the Interstate 72/Missouri 79 interchange, MoDOT is planning on ending Interstate 72 in Cameron. I'd rather they numbered from Saint Joseph, or better, from Atchison, Kansas, but I think Missouri 79 is Exit 157, and 157 miles west of Hannibal is Cameron.

A Roads & Bridges article that discusses potential new Interstate corridors describes Interstate 72 as follows:

Interstate 72 -- Kansas City to Chicago: This route would provide more direct access from Kansas City to Chicago, while providing an alternate to heavily traveled Interstate 70. Approximately 200 miles of upgrades and construction would be necessary.

To recap, if every part of Interstate 72 is built as listed here, it would run through Saint Joseph, Missouri; Hannibal, Missouri; Springfield, Illinois; Decatur, Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; Danville, Illinois; Lafayette, Indiana; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Toledo, Ohio. Just keep in mind that none of this information on Interstate 72 is official, and it is subject to change.

The "Western Illinois" Corridor

Linking from the new Interstate 72 corridor in Western Illinois is the proposed "Western Illinois" Corridor (name coined by Rich Carlson). Although not directly related to Corridor 4, the planned highway connects to Interstate 72 at Exit 4 (Interstate 172, former Illinois 336). Various sources at IDOT indicate that this corridor is under-served compared to the rest of the state, and it was identified by local and county governments. The hope is that this expressway project will help stimulate economic growth and continue gains made in the last decade.

The entire corridor starts in the Quincy area, heads north along Interstate 172 and Illinois 336 to Carthage, continues east along U.S. 136 to Macomb, north along U.S. 67 between Macomb and Monmouth to U.S. 34. At U.S. 34, the corridor heads east to Interstate 74 at Galesburg, then north to the Quad Cities. This corridor may someday extend south to the St. Louis area via an as-of-yet undetermined route.

Current plans for the corridor do not include any more Interstate miles, and the Illinois 336 extension north of Mendon will be two-lanes paved, and four-lanes graded, until funds are available to pave the other two lanes. U.S. 136 and U.S. 67 will go to four lanes.

Page Updated August 18, 2005.