Interstate 57 is one of two major corridors joining the Chicago area with downstate Illinois. It provides an alternative to Interstate 55 between Sikeston and Chicago by avoiding St. Louis. I-57 initially runs east from Sikeston to Charleston, Missouri before curving northeast to span the Mississippi River. The remainder of the freeway travels north though mostly rural areas.
South of Marion, Interstate 57 gains traffic from the west end of I-24 leading northwest from Nashville, Clarksville and Paducah. Some truck traffic diverges from I-57 for I-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 an 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, I-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 Route 37. U.S. 45 accompanies I-57 northward from Effingham to Kankakee. North of Kankakee, Interstate 57 replaced former U.S. 54, which became part of IL 50 and IL 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 designated U.S. 67, between North Little Rock and Walnut Ridge, Arkansas as Future Interstate 57. The bill also included 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 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 the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on September 24, 2017.
Arkansas – 123**
Missouri – 21.96
Illinois – 364.16*
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 4.15 miles on I-64, 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).
Part of the Connecting Arkansas Program (CAP), the 30 Crossing project reconstructing I-30 north from I-630 in Little Rock to I-40 in North Little Rock includes improvements at the exchange joining I-40 with Future I-57/U.S. 67-167. Work replaces the left exit ramp from I-40 east to U.S. 67/167 north with a three lane flyover departing from the right side. Work also expands Interstate 40 between I-30 and Future I-57, and reconfigures the parclo interchange with N Hills Boulevard to address weaving traffic. Overall construction on the project started in Summer 2020 and runs through 2025.
Within Chicago, Interstate 57 follows the Dan Ryan Extension, which extends from the split with I-94 southwest toward Kankakee. The first portion of I-57 to open in Chicago was a 1.1 mile long 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 I-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 long segment 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 opened north to Mount Vernon.4
An additional ten miles of Interstate 57 opened to traffic south from Ullin in May 1969. The following month another 14 miles of freeway were completed from IL 16 and Mattoon north to IL 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 long stretch from a point south of Mount Vernon to IL 161 east of Centralia.11
Continuing work through Fall 1969 included opening an eight mile section of I-57 from Tuscola to Arcola. Additional portions finished that December of that year were seven miles from IL 161 north to Salem, 13 miles from Onarga to Ashkum and 13 miles from Champaign to Rantool.11
The Interstate 57 Mississippi River bridge was dedicated on June 23, 1978. Constructed over the course of six years at a cost of $25.4 million, the bridge opened as part of a $50 million, 11 mile link between Charleston, Missouri 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 IL 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 I-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 rebuilt the concurrent stretch of I-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 ran through Fall 2016.10
North End (Dan Ryan Expressway) – Chicago, Illinois
Exit 63 branches west from I-94 as the Dan Ryan Expressway ends. I-57 begins as the Dan Ryan Extension southwest to Morgan Park and Calumet Park outside the city. I-94 lines the Bishop Ford Memorial Freeway east through Rosemoor and south to the exchange with I-80/294 (Tri-State Tollway) and IL 394. 06/24/22
North End Throwback
North at / Dan Ryan Expwy
Traveling inbound on the Dan Ryan, I-94 heads 12 miles north to the Jane Byrne (Circle) Interchange, where the Ryan and Kennedy Expressways (I-90/94) meet the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290). I-94 east converges with I-80 and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) 11 miles to the south. Photo by Brian Dowd (12/23/02).
/ Dan Ryan Expwy – East at
/ Dan Ryan Expwy – West at
South End – Sikeston, Missouri
South West at
The first confirming marker for Interstate 57 north stood at the bridge across North Cut Ditch just east of I-55. Removed by 2007, it was never replaced. Photo by Steve Hanudel (08/19/05).
Future South End – North Little Rock, Arkansas
Future South at
East North at Future
- 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 (IL), 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 (Cape Girardeau), 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 (Carbondale), August 12, 2015.
- “I-57 widening project causes backups.” Mt. Vernon Register-News (IL), January 19, 2013.
- “First phase of interstate project almost complete.” Effingham Daily News (IL), September 14, 2012.
- “Interstate 57/70 project in final months of construction.” Effingham Daily News (IL), October 4, 2015.
- “Illinois Schedules Its Largest Highway Building Program.” Chicago Tribune (IL), February 16, 1969.
Page updated July 29, 2022.