A $2.5 million engineering study could be right around the corner for the Missouri Department of Transportation to determine whether it’s worth it to spend the money to turn U.S. Highway 36 into Interstate 72 in Missouri. The state Legislature has approved the state budget item that awaits a decision from Gov. Mike Parson.

Highway 36 runs across the northern half of the state – from St. Joseph to Hannibal. Turning U.S. Highway 36 into Interstate 72 could make traversing along the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway, as it’s known, a little bit easier.

Representative Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, supports the study.

“I want to see what the study comes back and tells us,” she told Missourinet. “To have an opinion on it before the study is completed, I think is irresponsible. So, I’d like to hear what the study has to say. If it’s viable, how it will affect our farmers along Highway 36 and how it will affect our communities and our businesses as well.”

The Missouri Legislature has endorsed the state budget item and is asking the same of Governor Mike Parson, who has made Missouri’s infrastructure a key priority. Shields believes that Route 36 would serve as overflow for when I-70 gets widened.

“Highway 36 right now is two lanes in both directions with a median clear across the state of Missouri,” she explained. “It has rather rolling hills. It’s a beautiful drive. It has farmland on both sides of it and it goes through several small communities or around the outskirts of several small communities across the state of Missouri.”

There is one problem though on possibly turning U.S. 36 into I-72, the northern Missouri farmers. Shields expressed concern for them because they cross the highway to transport their farm equipment from one field to another.

“In fact, this time of year MoDOT has signs along the road to let individuals be aware that there is farm equipment because it’s planting season on Highway 36 and they might encounter a farmer’s tractor planter along the highway.”

The governor has until the end of June to take action on the state budget proposal.

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