A budget item that awaits a decision from Gov. Mike Parson focuses on highway infrastructure. If approved, a $2.5 million engineering study would determine the worth of turning U.S. Highway 36 into Interstate 72 in Missouri.
Sen. Rusty Black, R-Chillicothe, said that he supports the study.
“There are people on both sides of that issue that I represent that nothing would make them happier for transportation, for they believe bringing people to our area, for tourism, etc. than having Interstate 72 go completely across the northern part of our state,” he said.
However, Black is concerned for the farmers in his district who cross the highway to transport their farm equipment from one field to another.
“There are other people that move agricultural products, equipment, etc. through this monstrous corn/soybean belt up here that are going to be upset if the limited access makes it very, very difficult for them to perform their daily operation of farming/producing the food that has produced in our area.” he explained.
The upside to converting into an interstate is that it could relieve traffic on I-70 when it’s being widened. If Missouri gets to a point where it does decide to convert the highway, he speculates it will be more than a decade down the road.
“Looking at things today, not being able to see what’s in the future, my guess is, priority wise, with the amount of commerce that goes across I-70, it’s going to be first,” according to Sen. Black. “Some people putting numbers in front of me (say) that there’s more commerce travel on I-44 than there is I-70. My guess is I-44 would be next.”
U.S. Highway 36 runs from St. Joseph to Hannibal, where Interstate 72 dead ends.