Interstate 72

Interstate 72 Missouri
Interstate 72 Illinois

Interstate 72 and U.S. 36 at the Mark Twain Bridge to East Hannibal, Illinois. Photo by Jeff Royston (02/05/08)


Interstate 72 stretches across central Illinois from Hannibal, Missouri to Champaign-Urbana along a mostly rural route. Prior to 1995, the freeway comprised just an 80 mile long route east from Springfield to Decatur and Champaign. The Central Illinois Expressway (U.S. 36) extended the route west to Quincy. This included designating a business loop through Jacksonville.

Illinois Route 110 and Missouri Route 110, collectively the Chicago-Kansas City (CKC) Expressway, overlap with Interstate 72 east from U.S. 36 and Hannibal to I-172 north. Designated in 2010, the expressway follows a series of preexisting routes from I-35/435 outside Kansas City to the Jane Byrne (Circle) Interchange joining I-290 with I-90/94 in Chicago, Illinois.

I-72 ends at U.S. 61 (Avenue of the Saints) in Hannibal, but further lengthening was proposed by Marion County. The five item transportation list finalized by the County Commission on February 16, 2016 added the upgrade of U.S. 36, from the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge across the Mississippi River, to the split of U.S. 24/36 near Rocket Plaza, as a priority. Citing potential benefits including economic development and marketing of Hannibal Lakeside Industrial Park, the Commission advocated extending Interstate 72 west approximately seven miles.1 The proposed extension was also a topic of discussion at the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission monthly meeting held in Hannibal on September 1, 2016.2

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) denied the Missouri Department of Transportation request to lengthen I-72 west to U.S. 24 in February 2017. FHWA cited rules that Interstates must end at other Interstates, despite I-72 currently ending at U.S. 61. When the Mark Twain Bridge opened in September 2000, U.S. 61 was the best end point option available for Interstate 72. Since the bridge met Interstate standards, FHWA approved the 1.75 mile extension into Missouri.6

U.S. 36 is a controlled access expressway west to Cameron. This corridor is also a part of Missouri  Route110 (CKC). If the Hannibal Expressway gets built around the west side Hannibal, estimated to cost $38 million per a 2007 study, then FHWA may approve extending Interstate 72.6 Not funded for construction, the potential location for the bypass linked with the interchange joining U.S. 36 and U.S. 24 near Rocket Plaza.

High Priority Corridor

The proposed extension of Interstate 72 through Missouri from Hannibal to St. Joseph is part of High Priority Corridor 61: Missouri Corridors.

Parallel U.S. Routes

Interstate 72 overlaps with U.S. 36 from Hannibal, Missouri east to Decatur, Illinois. U.S. 51 joins the route to bypass Decatur, with I-72 traveling independent of a US highway eastward from Exit 141 to Champaign.


Interstate 72 was completed between Springfield and Champaign in November 1976. Planned since the early 1960s, the Central Illinois Expressway portion of I-72, from Interstate 55 west to Hull, opened to traffic on November 22, 1991.3 Signing of the route as I-72 commenced within a week of April 27, 1995.4

Illinois first proposed the designation of Interstate 172 for the Central Illinois Expressway between IL 336 near East Hannibal and I-55 at Springfield. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Route Numbering Committee approved the establishment of I-172 on June 9, 1991, with it subject to both Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approval and completion of the route. The FHWA however preferred to designate this route as an extension of I-72. Due to this change, Interstate 172 was moved to the IL 336 freeway spurring north from the proposed I-72 to Quincy and U.S. 24. AASHTO approved both routes on April 22, 1995.

Part of the extension of Interstate 72 included the construction of the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge across the Mississippi River. The steel truss bridge was dedicated on September 16, 2000. The following bridge facts were based on information distributed by the “Hannibal Bridge Dedication Steering Committee”:

  • Estimated cost: $51.45 Million.
  • Overall length: 4,491 feet; Overall Width: 85 feet and eight inches (including four twelve foot travel lanes, ten foot outside shoulders, six foot inside shoulders, and a concrete traffic barrier in a three foot wide median).
  • The Missouri approach consists of continuous composite prestressed concrete girders: two are 85 feet long, one is 170 feet long, and the second is 105 feet long.
  • The Illinois side consists of the same type of girders over wetlands: six are 220 feet long, 12 are 130.5 feet long, one is 151 feet long (steel plate girders), one is 218 feet long (steel plate girders), and one is 145 feet long (steel plate girders).
  • The new bridge is located halfway between the existing bridge (old U.S. 36) and the railroad bridge to the north. It is at River Mile 309.6.
  • 11,000 vehicles traverse it daily.
  • The bridge is designed for seismic forces.
  • The main truss span is 89 feet wide and 640 feet long.

Exit numbers in Missouri reflect the distance to the interchange joining U.S. 36 with Interstate 35 at Cameron, where Route 110 (CKC) turns south. There are no plans to extend Interstate 72 west from Hannibal all the way to I-35 or to Interstate 29 at St. Joseph. An $80 million project upgraded 52 miles of U.S. 36 west from Hannibal. The four lane expansion started in September 2005 with preliminary design work. Spanning four counties, the project was finished in the following order:5

  • Hannibal west to Monroe City – August 7, 2009.
  • Monroe City west to Shelbina – June 17, 2010.
  • Shelbina to Macon – August 16, 2010

Route Information

  • East End – Champaign, IL

  • West End – Hannibal, MO

  • Branch Routes – 1
  • Total Mileage – 179.29


Missouri – 2.04

  • Cities – Hannibal

  • Junctions – none

Illinois – 177.25

  • Cities – Quincy, Jacksonville, Springfield, Decatur, Champaign

  • JunctionsI-172 I-55 I-57

Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

I-72 - 1971 Illinois Official Highway Map
Interstate 72 – 1971 Illinois Official Highway Map

The first portion of Interstate 72 ran west from Champaign to Monticello. The remainder of the route would not open until 1976. When it did IL 47 was decommissioned from Exit 176 west to Decatur

Route 79 north at I-72 - Hannibal, MO

Missouri Route 79’s northern terminus is located at I-72/U.S. 36 in Hannibal. Route 79 winds southward to Louisiana, Clarksville and I-70 at Saint Peters. Photo by Jeff Royston (02/05/08).

Route 79 north at I-72 - Hannibal, MO

Shields posted ahead of the Route 79 westbound on-ramp to Interstate 72. Decommissioned by 2015, U.S. 61 Business turned west onto I-72 from Mark Twain Avenue for the return to the Avenue of the Saints. Photo by Jeff Royston (02/05/08).

I-74 west at I-57 - 1979

Button copy signs for the cloverleaf interchange joining I-57 and I-74. This exchange lies just two miles north Interstate 72. Photo by Michael Summa (1979).

AARoads Photo Guides

East End I-57 / Church St / University Ave – Champaign, Illinois

I-72 East at I-57 / University Ave

I-72 east at I-57 - Champaign, IL

The first in a series of guide signs for Interstate 57 on I-72 eastbound appears at the bridge crossing Kaskaskia Ditch. All guide signs for Exits 182 AB were replaced with Clearview font by 2008. Photo by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).

I-72 east at I-57 - Champaign, IL

Interstate 72 ends two miles south of the cloverleaf interchange joining I-57/74 on the northwest side of Champaign. I-74 runs north across Champaign-Urbana to Danville and Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).

I-72 east at I-57 - Champaign, IL

The freeway extends another 1.2 miles from the cloverleaf interchange joining I-72 with I-57 to the couplet of University Avenue east and Church Street west to Downtown Champaign. Photo by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).

I-72 east at I-57 - Champaign, IL

CR 800 E spans I-72 a half mile ahead of Exit 182 A for Interstate 57 south. Subdivisions abut the northwest and northeast quadrants of the forthcoming exchange. Photo by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).

I-72 east at I-57 - Champaign, IL

I-57 travels through Mattoon, Effingham and Mount Vernon in Southern Illinois to exit the state at Cairo. I-57 extends southwest to I-55 near Sikeston, Missouri, with I-55 continuing to Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).

I-57 heads 2.21 miles northeast from Exit 182 B to I-74 in Champaign, IL

Exit 182 B loops onto I-57 north from I-72 to adjacent I-74, Rantoul, Kankakee and the south side of Chicago. 05/24/08

Church Street – West at I-72

Mathis Av north at Church St - Champaign, IL

Mathis Avenue separates retail areas to the west from residential areas to the east to the couplet of University Avenue east and Church Street west to Interstate 72. 05/24/08

Church St west at I-72 - Champaign, IL

Trailblazers for all three Champaign area Interstates stand at the intersection of Church Street west at County Fair Drive. The freeway west to I-72 commences after the adjacent traffic light. 05/24/08

I-72 west of Church St - Champaign, IL

Interstate 72 stems west from University Avenue one mile to the unnumbered ramp for I-57 north to Chicago. 05/24/08

I-72 west of Church St - Champaign, IL

The first westbound confirming marker for Interstate 72 precedes the bridge over Copper Slough and the CN Railroad. 05/24/08

I-57 North at I-72

I-57 north at I-72 - Champaign, IL

Interstate 57 meets I-72 at a cloverleaf interchange (Exits 235 AB) beyond the IL 10 (Springfield Avenue) underpass. 11/17/07

I-57 north at I-72 - Champaign, IL

Exit 235 A departs from I-57 north for the unsigned spur east from I-72 to University Avenue. University Avenue crosses the city to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. 11/17/07

I-57 north at I-72 - Champaign, IL

Exit 235 B loops onto Interstate 72 west from I-57 north toward Decatur. 05/24/08

I-57 South at I-72

I-57 south at I-72 - Champaign, IL

Interstate 57 angles southwest from the cloverleaf interchange (Exits 237B/A) with I-74 to meet I-72 in two miles. Photo by Chris and Amber Lokken (01/27/10).

I-57 south at I-72 - Champaign, IL

Interstate 72 links I-57 with Decatur and Springfield to the west and University Avenue east to Champaign and the University of Illinois. Photo by Chris and Amber Lokken (01/27/10).

I-57 south at I-72 - Champaign, IL

Subdivisions line both sides of Interstate 57 as the freeway nears the CR 1700 N overpass and Exit 235 B for Interstate 72 west. Photo by Chris and Amber Lokken (01/27/10).

I-57 south at I-72 - Champaign, IL

I-72 ventures west 40 miles to Decatur and 80 miles to Springfield. Photo by Chris and Amber Lokken (01/27/10).

I-57 south at I-72 - Champaign, IL

Exit 235A follows for the I-72 freeway spur to University Avenue. University Avenue flows east to State Street at West Side Park, two blocks from city hall. Church Street brings westbound traffic from Downtown to Interstate 72. Photo by Chris and Amber Lokken (01/27/10).

West End US 36 US 61 MO 110 – Hannibal, Missouri

I-72 US 36 Route 110 West

I-72/US 36 west at US 61 - Hannibal, MO

I-72 west approaches Exit 157 for U.S. 61 (McMasters Avenue). Beyond this interchange, U.S. 36/Route 110 (CKC) continue westward to U.S. 24 near Withers Mill. A replacement made for this shield array dropped both U.S. 61 Business and the Great River Road trailblazer in favor of a Route 110 marker. U.S. 36 Business and U.S. 61 Business were decommissioned by 2015. Photo by Jeff Morrison (04/20/08).

I-72/US 36 west at US 61 - Hannibal, MO

A typical MoDOT end sign for Interstate 72 stands within the single point urban interchange (SPUI) at U.S. 61 (McMasters Avenue). Photo by Jeff Royston (02/05/08).

I-72 US 36 Route 110 East

US 36 east at I-72/US 61 - Hannibal, MO

U.S. 36/Route 110 (CKC) east at the SPUI (Exit 157) with U.S. 61 (Avenue of the Saints) and former U.S. 36 Business. New London and Palmyra are county seats along the U.S. 61 corridor. Photo by Jeff Morrison (04/20/08).

US 61 at I-72/US 36 - Hannibal, MO

This set of shields was posted along the eastbound entrance ramp from U.S. 61 (Avenue of the Saints) to Interstate 72. It was removed after 2010. Photo by Jeff Royston (02/05/08).

I-72/US 36/Route 110 east at Route 79 - Hannibal, MO

The first confirming marker for I-72 east appears alongside U.S. 36 and the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway midway between the Avenue of the Saints and Route 79 (Mark Twain Avenue). Route 79 was the former east leg of U.S. 36 Business. 04/13/13

US 61 McMasters Ave – North at I-72 US 36 Route 110

US 61 north at I-72/US 36/Route 100 - Hannibal, MO

U.S. 61 (Avenue of the Saints) travels a half mile north from a commercialized intersection with Route MM and James Road to meet Interstate 72 east, U.S. 36 and Route 110 (CKC). Photo by Joseph Barnes (08/14/16).

US 61 north at I-72/US 36/Route 100 - Hannibal, MO

The single point urban interchange (SPUI) with I-72, U.S. 36/Route 110 (CKC) lies just north of the traffic light with Ely Road west and Pleasant Street east. Photo by Joseph Barnes (08/14/16).

US 61 north at I-72/US 36/Route 100 - Hannibal, MO

U.S. 36/Route 110 (CKC) east become a part of Interstate 72 as the freeway leads away from U.S. 61 (McMasters Avenue) to the Mark Twain Bridge. The subsequent interchange connects with Route 79 south to Downtown Hannibal. Photo by Jeff Royston (02/05/08).

US 61 McMasters Ave – South at I-72 US 36 Route 110

US 61 south at I-72/US 36/Route 100 - Hannibal, MO

U.S. 61 transitions from a controlled access route to a five lane commercial boulevard (McMasters Avenue) through the north side of Hannibal. McMasters Avenue continues south from the expressway end 0.7 miles to the interchange with I-72 east, U.S. 36 and Route 110 (CKC). Photo by Jeff Morrison (04/18/08).

Historic West End – I-55 US 36 – Springfield, Illinois

I-55/US 36 north at I-72 - Springfield, IL

U.S. 36 splits with I-55 north at the cloverleaf interchange (Exits 98A/B) with I-72. Cook Street passes above the freeway in this scene as it extends from Eastdale Avenue. Cook Street west to 9th Street was formerly a part of U.S. 36 before it was relocated onto a freeway bypass south of Springfield. Photo by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).

I-55/US 36 north at I-72 - Springfield, IL

Exit 98A departed from I-55 north / U.S. 36 east for I-72 east. The subsequent exit joins I-55 with IL 54; IL 54 is the pre-1972 routing of U.S. 54, from when it extended all the way to Chicago. U.S. 54 ends at I-72/U.S. 36 to the west near Pittsfield, Illinois. Photo by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).

I-72/US 36 east at I-55 - Springfield, IL

The first set of shields for I-72/U.S. 36 posted after I-55 at Springfield. The freeway curves northeastward from adjacent CR 12 in this view. CR 12 is the original U.S. 36 alignment. Photo by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).


  1. “Interstate designation makes Marion County transportation priority list.” Hannibal Courier-Post (MO), February 20, 2016.
  2. “Missouri highways panel hears regional transportation priorities.” Herald-Whig (Quincy, IL), September1, 2016.
  3. “Realization of a Dream.” State Journal-Register, The (Springfield, IL), November 22, 1991.
  4. “Road to the Top? Designation Puts Expressway in the ‘Big Leagues’.” State Journal-Register, The (Springfield, IL), April 28, 1995.
  5. Route 36 Expansion – Project Information. MoDOT web site.
  6. “I-72 expansion near Hannibal on hold for now.” Herald-Whig (Quincy, IL), February 19, 2017.

Page updated December 14, 2020.