Interstate 57 is one of two major north-south Interstates serving downstate Illinois. It provides an alternative to Interstate 55 between Sikeston and Chicago by avoiding St. Louis. The freeway initially runs east from Sikeston to Charleston, Missouri before curving northeast to span the Mississippi River. The remainder of the freeway ventures north though mostly rural environs.
South of Marion, Interstate 57 gains traffic from the ending Interstate 24 leading northwest from Nashville, Clarksville and Paducah. Some truck traffic peels off I-57 for Interstate 64 west from Mount Vernon to the St. Louis area. Through Mt. Vernon, I-57 & 64 share a five mile overlap.
Beyond Mount Vernon, I-57 ventures north to Salem before turning northeast to Effingham and a six-mile overlap with Interstate 70. I-70 carries a substantial amount of truck traffic between St. Louis and Indianapolis, adding to the busy cosigned section with I-57.
North from Effingham, Interstate 57 continues to Mattoon, Champaign, Kankakee and the south suburbs of Chicago. Within Chicago, Interstate 57 is one of the few freeways that is referred to by its number rather than an expressway name.
Parallel U.S. Routes
Interstate 57 combines with U.S. 60 and parallels U.S. 62 from Sikeston to Charleston in Missouri. U.S. 51 ties into the I-57 corridor from Cairo in southern Illinois, with the two paired northward until Dongola. Between Dongola and Effingham, Interstate 57 parallels Illinois 37. U.S. 45 accompanies I-57 northward from Effingham to Kankakee. North of Kankakee, Interstate 57 replaced former U.S. 54 (now Illinois 50 and Illinois 1).
Interstate 57 in Arkansas
Language inserted into the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development by U.S. Senator John Boozman on April 21, 2016 designates U.S. 67, between North Little Rock and Walnut Ridge, Arkansas as Future Interstate 57. The bill also includes the option to officially designate any interstate standard stretch of the U.S. 67 freeway as I-57.1
The orientation of the freeway northeast from Little Rock alludes to an eventual connection with existing Interstate 57 in southeastern Missouri. The designation of I-57 in Arkansas represents an important step to completing that link. Additional supporters of I-57 in Arkansas include communities throughout the corridor, the Newport Economic Development Commission and Chambers of Commerce in Bald Knob, Cabot, Jacksonville, Lawrence County, Newport, Sherwood and Searcy.1
The establishment of Future Interstate 57 along the U.S. 67 freeway, from I-40 in North Little Rock to U.S. 412 at Walnut Ridge, was approved by AASHTO on September 24, 2017.
North End – Chicago, IL
South End – Sikeston, MO
Branch Routes – 0
Total Mileage – 386.12
Arkansas – 123#
Cities – North Little Rock, Jacksonville, Searcy, Newport, Walnut Ridge
- Junctions –
Missouri – 21.96
Cities – Sikeston, Charleston
- Junctions –
Illinois – 364.16*
Cities – Cairo, Marion, Mount Vernon, Salem, Effingham, Matton, Champaign-Urbana, Rantoul, Kankakee, Chicago
Source: December 31, 2017 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 5.59 miles on I-70
# – estimate of Future I-57 mileage
Interstate 57 ended at U.S. 60 & 62 outside Charleston until 1978, when the freeway opened northward across the Mississippi River into Illinois.
One of the last sections of Interstate 57 to open in Illinois was the stretch between U.S. 136 at Rantoul (Exit 250) and Buckley (Exit 272).
Within Chicago, Interstate 57 follows the Dan Ryan Extension, which extends from the Interstate 94 split southwest toward Kankakee. The first portion of I-57 to open in Chicago was a 1.1 mile stretch leading west from the Dan Ryan and Calumet (Bishop Ford Freeway) Expressway exchange to Halsted Street on November 6, 1963.2 The remaining urban segments of Interstate 57 in Chicago opened to traffic in phases between 1967 and 1970.3
The first section of Interstate 57 in Illinois was dedicated on September 26, 1961. The 30-mile section opened from Dongola (Exit 24) north to Marion. The next stretch completed extended I-57 north from Marion to Johnston City on November 1, 1962. The route to West Frankfort followed in 1963 and by 1965, I-57 was open north to Mount Vernon.4
An additional ten miles of Interstate 57 opened to traffic south from Ullin in May 1969. The following month saw another 14 miles of freeway completed from Illinois 16 and Mattoon north to Illinois 133 at Arcola. Subsequent completion occurred in July 1969 on a five mile section of I-57 from Urbandale northward and a 21.5 mile stretch from a point south of Mount Vernon to Illinois 161 east of Centralia.<sup11/sup>
Continuing work through Fall 1969 included opening an eight mile section of I-57 from Tuscola to Arcola. Additional portions included seven miles from Illinois 161 north to Salem, 13 miles from Onarga to Ashkum and 13 miles from Champaign to Rantool in December of that year.11
The Interstate 57 Mississippi River bridge was dedicated on June 23, 1978. Constructed over the course of six years and at a cost of $25.4-million, the bridge opened as part of a $50-million 11-mile link between Charleston, MO and U.S. 51 outside Cairo. This section was the last to open of the overall Interstate 57 corridor.5
A $10.6-million project broke ground on July 16, 2013 to expand Interstate 57 to six lanes between Marion and Johnston City, Illinois. Related work included the conversion of the ramps with Illinois 13 to a single point urban interchange (SPUI),6 as well as the addition of the first diverging diamond interchange (DDI) in southern Illinois. Work on the DDI at The Hill Avenue (formerly Morgan Avenue) was coupled with the adjacent SPUI at IL 13 in a $40 million project. The new exit opened on August 12, 2015.7
Construction at Mount Vernon involved the overlap with Interstate 64. Started in July 2011, this project widened 4.7 miles of Interstate 57 to six overall lanes through the city, with working underway to December 1, 2013.8 The Mount Vernon widening was the first of the overall I-57 Corridor plan to expand the freeway to six lanes southward to Marion and Interstate 24.
Further north at Effingham, $125-million in construction involves the cosigned stretch of Interstates 57 & 70. Work broke ground on October 5, 2010 to widen the freeway to six lanes, replace the Little Wabash River bridge on Interstate 70, and reconstruct the interchange with Fayette Avenue.9 The four-phase project runs through fall 2016.10
North End (Dan Ryan Expressway) – Chicago, Illinois
South End – Sikeston, Missouri
- John Boozman United States Senator for Arkansas. (Apr 25, 2016). “Boozman Provision in Appropriations Bill Paves Way for Interstate Status of U.S. 67.” [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.boozman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/
- “Interstate 57 Link Opens Today.” Chicago Tribune, November 6, 1963.
- Encyclopedia of Chicago: Expressways by Dennis McClendon of the Chicago Historical Society.
- Musgrave, Jon. (2011, September, 25). Interstate 57 Marks 50 Years of Traveling [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://illinoishistory.blogspot.com/2011/09/interstate-57-marks-50-years-of.html
- “Cairo bridge final link in Interstate system.” The Southeast Missourian, June 25, 1978.
- “Governor Quinn Breaks Ground on $10.6 Million Widening Project for I-57 near Marion.” Illinois Government News Network press release, July 15, 2013.
- “Illinois’s first interchange of its kind opens in Marion.” The Southern Illinoisan, August 12, 2015.
- “I-57 widening project causes backups.” Mt. Vernon Register-News, January 19, 2013.
- “First phase of interstate project almost complete.” Effingham Daily News, September 14, 2012.
- “Interstate 57/70 project in final months of construction.” Effingham Daily News, October 4, 2015.
- “Illinois Schedules Its Largest Highway Building Program.” Chicago Tribune, February 16, 1969.
Page updated October 12, 2017.