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Welcome to the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway.
Area motorists may be doing double takes after spotting mysterious new signs posted near entrances to Interstate 88, which bisects DeKalb County.
Earlier this year, the Illinois General Assembly named the highway as part of an official route between Chicago and Kansas City. Transportation officials hope the idea will catch on because it could lessen traffic on an overburdened Interstate 55 in the Chicago area and a busy Interstate 70 from St. Louis to Kansas City.
To take the new CKC Expressway from Chicago, take I-290, then I-88 west to the Quad Cities, then go south on I-74 to Galesburg, exit and meander past Monmouth, Macomb and Quincy, cross the Mississippi River at Hannibal, Mo., go west on U.S. Route 36 to I-35, then veer south to Kansas City.
The distance – 530 miles or so – is comparable to taking I-55 and I-70. Portions of the route have been rebuilt, and the traffic shouldn’t be heavy.
The Legislature’s resolution states the cities are two of the major commercial and tourism centers of the Midwest, and, therefore, deserve to be connected.
So, will the public buy it?
We’re reminded of an Abraham Lincoln quote: “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
Well, calling a highway the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway doesn’t make it so. For instance, imagine drivers from Kansas City encountering I-PASS lanes for the first time. That confusing experience could torpedo the whole concept.
However, properly promoted, the designation does offer the potential of more motorists and truckers stopping in our region for fuel, food and lodging.
The CKC Expressway presents an opportunity. Local communities must figure out how to capitalize on it.