Interstate 39 was designated along freeway portions of U.S. 51 between Bloomington and Rockford in the 1980s. Its origins dated back to 1945 with Illinois officials touting a route between Salem and South Beloit along U.S. 51. Completion of the Interstate in Illinois occurred on Halloween 1992.1
Interstate 39 Illinois Guides
- South - Rockford
- South - La Salle County
- South - Wenona to Normal
- North - Normal to Wenona
- North - La Salle County
- North - Lee County to Rockford
New freeway for U.S. 51 from Interstate 80 near La Salle southward to Oglesby opened in early 1989. This included the 1987-opened Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge across the Illinois River.1 A 5.3-mile portion in McLean County, north of Normal (Exit 2), opened in December 11, 1989. This stretch cost $26.6-million.2
The interchange with Interstate 55 followed into 1990, which included work to reconfigure the pre-existing full-cloverleaf interchange with U.S. 51 into a folded-diamond.3
Further construction added another 12-miles of new Interstate 39 between Illinois 18 (Exit 41) and the La Salle stretch on July 2, 1991 at a cost of $46.5-million.3
The final 33-mile portion between Interstates 55 and 80 cost $165-million3, with a $12.1-million, 4.4-mile section from Hudson (Exit 5) to Kappa started on July 17, 1990 and completed on May 29, 1992. Traffic shifted to the future southbound lanes of I-39 for two-way traffic of U.S. 51 on this segment in August 1991 so crews could remove the old travel lanes of U.S. 51 to make way for northbound I-39. Additional work replicated the process between Illinois 116 and 18 with traffic using the southbound lanes of the new freeway roadway in a temporary configuration for U.S. 514 Completion between IL 116 (Exit 22) and IL 17 (Exit 35) took place on September 2, 1992.5
The final piece of U.S. 51 upgraded to Interstate 39 was the 12-mile drive between Kappa and Illinois 116 (Exit 22). This took place after a ceremony marking the completion of Interstate 39 at U.S. 24 near El Paso on October 31, 1992. Overall I-39 cost $622-million to complete in Illinois.6
|U.S. 51 Business concludes an 8.9 mile route through Bloomington-Normal at the first interchange of Interstate 39 north. Photos taken 05/07/10.|
|Walnut Street east at the diamond interchange with Interstate 39 & U.S. 51 in the city of Oglesby. Photo taken 09/04/05.|
|I-39 north sign at the Willow Creek Rest Area in Lee County. Photo taken 05/09/10.|
- "Completion of last link ends the 47-year-old saga of I-39" Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL), October 31, 1992.
- "5-mile section of I-39 to open in 2 weeks" Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL), December 1, 1989.
- "Continue good job along 'missing 51'" Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL), December 14, 1989.
- "12-mile stretch of I-39 opens." Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL), July 3, 1991.
- "I-39 stretch opened." Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL), September 3, 1992.
- "Illinois 121, I-39 hitting milestones." Pantagraph, The (Bloomington, IL), October 27, 1992.
09/04/05, 05/07/10, 05/09/10 by AARoads
Page Updated 05-01-2018.