Interstate 72

Interstate 72 Missouri Interstate 72 Illinois
East End
West End

Interstate 72 and U.S. 36 at the Mark Twain Bridge to East Hannibal, Illinois. Photo by Jeff Royston (02/05/08)


Interstate 72 stretches across central Illinois from Hannibal, Missouri to Champaign-Urbana along a mostly rural route. Prior to 1995, the freeway comprised just an 80-mile route east from Springfield to Decatur and Champaign. The Central Illinois Expressway (U.S. 36) extended the route west to Quincy. This included designating a business loop through Jacksonville.

Illinois Route 110 and Missouri Route 110, collectively the Chicago-Kansas City (CKC) Expressway, overlap with Interstate 72 east from U.S. 36 and Hannibal to I-172 north. Designated in 2010, the expressway follows a series of preexisting routes from I-35/435 outside Kansas City to the Jane Byrne (Circle) Interchange joining I-290 with I-90/94 in Chicago, Illinois.

I-72 ends at U.S. 61 (Avenue of the Saints) in Hannibal, but further lengthening was proposed by Marion County. The five-item transportation list finalized by the County Commission on February 16, 2016 added the upgrade of U.S. 36, from the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge across the Mississippi River, to the split of U.S. 24/36 near Rocket Plaza, as a priority. Citing potential benefits including economic development and marketing of Hannibal Lakeside Industrial Park, the Commission advocated extending Interstate 72 west approximately seven miles.1 The proposed extension was also a topic of discussion at the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission monthly meeting held in Hannibal on September 1, 2016.2

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) denied the Missouri Department of Transportation request to lengthen I-72 west to U.S. 24 in February 2017. FHWA cited rules that Interstates must end at other Interstates, despite I-72 currently ending at U.S. 61. When the Mark Twain Bridge opened in September 2000, U.S. 61 was the best end point option available for Interstate 72. Since the bridge met Interstate standards, FHWA approved the 1.75 mile extension into Missouri.6

U.S. 36 is a controlled access expressway west to Cameron. This corridor is also a part of Missouri 110 (CKC). If the Hannibal Expressway gets built around the west side Hannibal, estimated to cost $38 million per a 2007 study, then FHWA may approve extending Interstate 72.6 The bypass will link with the interchange joining U.S. 36 and U.S. 24 near Rocket Plaza.

High Priority Corridor

The proposed extension of Interstate 72 through Missouri from Hannibal to St. Joseph is part of High Priority Corridor 61: Missouri Corridors.

Parallel U.S. Routes

Interstate 72 overlaps with U.S. 36 from Hannibal, Missouri east to Decatur, Illinois. U.S. 51 joins the route to bypass Decatur, with I-72 traveling independent of a US highway eastward from Exit 141 to Champaign.


Interstate 72 was completed between Springfield and Champaign in November 1976. Planned since the early 1960s, the Central Illinois Expressway portion of I-72, from Interstate 55 west to Hull, opened to traffic on November 22, 1991.3 Signing of the route as I-72 commenced within a week of April 27, 1995.4

Illinois first proposed the designation of Interstate 172 for the Central Illinois Expressway between IL 336 near East Hannibal and I-55 at Springfield. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Route Numbering Committee approved the establishment of I-172 on June 9, 1991, with it subject to both Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approval and completion of the route. The FHWA however preferred to designate this route as an extension of I-72. Due to this change, Interstate 172 was moved to the IL 336 freeway spurring north from the proposed I-72 to Quincy and U.S. 24. AASHTO approved both routes on April 22, 1995.

Part of the extension of Interstate 72 included the construction of the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge across the Mississippi River. The steel truss bridge was dedicated on September 16, 2000. The following bridge facts were based on information distributed by the “Hannibal Bridge Dedication Steering Committee”:

  • Estimated cost: $51.45 Million.
  • Overall length: 4,491 feet; Overall Width: 85 feet and eight inches (including four twelve-foot travel lanes, ten-foot outside shoulders, six-foot inside shoulders, and a concrete traffic barrier in a three-foot wide median).
  • The Missouri approach consists of continuous composite prestressed concrete girders: two are 85 feet long, one is 170 feet long, and the second is 105 feet long.
  • The Illinois side consists of the same type of girders over wetlands: six are 220 feet long, 12 are 130.5 feet long, one is 151 feet long (steel plate girders), one is 218 feet long (steel plate girders), and one is 145 feet long (steel plate girders).
  • The new bridge is located halfway between the existing bridge (old U.S. 36) and the railroad bridge to the north. It is at River Mile 309.6.
  • 11,000 vehicles traverse it daily.
  • The bridge is designed for seismic forces.
  • The main truss span is 89 feet wide and 640 feet long.

Exit numbers in Missouri reflect the distance to the interchange joining U.S. 36 with Interstate 35 at Cameron, where Route 110 (CKC) turns south. There are no plans to extend Interstate 72 west from Hannibal all the way to I-35 or to Interstate 29 at St. Joseph. An $80-million project upgraded 52 miles of U.S. 36 west from Hannibal. The four lane expansion started in September 2005 with preliminary design work. Spanning four counties, the project was finished in the following order:5

  • Hannibal west to Monroe City – August 7, 2009.
  • Monroe City west to Shelbina – June 17, 2010.
  • Shelbina to Macon – August 16, 2010

Route Information

  • East End – Champaign, IL

  • West End – Hannibal, MO

  • Branch Routes – 1
  • Total Mileage – 179.29


Missouri – 2.04

  • Cities – Hannibal

  • Junctions – none

Illinois – 177.25

  • Cities – Quincy, Jacksonville, Springfield, Decatur, Champaign

  • JunctionsI-172 I-55 I-57

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

I-72 - 1971 Illinois Official Highway Map
Interstate 72 – 1971 Illinois Official Highway Map

The first portion of Interstate 72 ran west from Champaign to Monticello. The remainder of the route would not open until 1976. When it did IL 47 was decommissioned from Exit 176 west to Decatur

Route 79 north at I-72 - Hannibal, MO

Missouri Route 79’s northern terminus is located at I-72/U.S. 36 in Hannibal. Route 79 winds southward to Louisiana, Clarksville and I-70 at Saint Peters. Photo by Jeff Royston (02/05/08).

Route 79 north at I-72 - Hannibal, MO

Shields posted ahead of the Route 79 westbound on-ramp to Interstate 72. Decommissioned by 2015, U.S. 61 Business turned west onto I-72 from Mark Twain Avenue for the return to the Avenue of the Saints. Photo by Jeff Royston (02/05/08).

I-74 west at I-57 - 1979

Button copy signs for the cloverleaf interchange joining I-57 and I-74. This exchange lies just two miles north Interstate 72. Photo by Michael Summa (1979).

East End I-57 / Church St / University Ave – Champaign, Illinois

Historic perspective from Interstate 72 east
The first in a series of guide signs for Interstate 57 appears at the I-72 eastbound crossing of Kaskaskia Ditch.
All guide signs for Exits 182A/B were replaced with Clearview font by 2008. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
Interstate 72 ends two miles south of the I-57 cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 74 on the northwest side of Champaign. I-74 runs north across Champaign-Urbana to Danville and Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
This sign indicates that Interstate 72 ends within the full cloverleaf interchange at Interstate 57. The freeway however extends another 1.2 miles from Exit 182B to the couplet of University Avenue east and Church Street west to Downtown Champaign. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
County Road 800 East spans I-72 a half mile ahead of Exit 182A for Interstate 57 south. Subdivisions abut the northwest and northeast quadrants of the forthcoming exchange. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
Interstate 57 leads to southern reaches of Illinois by way of Mattoon, Effingham and Mount Vernon to exit the state at Cairo. Although the control city designation is Memphis, I-57 does not extend far enough south to reach Memphis. It ends at Interstate 55 near Sikeston, Missouri. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
A loop ramp carries motorists onto Interstate 57 north to adjacent I-74, Rantoul, Kankakee and the south side of Chicago. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
Perspective from Interstate 72 east
Interstate 72 east crosses a CN Railroad line and Copper Slough ahead of the signalized end at University Avenue east and Country Fair Drive. Photo taken 05/24/08.
Perspective from Interstate 57 north
Entering the full cloverleaf interchange (Exits 235A/B) with Interstate 72, motorists depart from I-57 north for the unsigned spur east to University Avenue. University Avenue crosses the city to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Photo taken by Joel Wade (12/12/04).
Interstate 72 vacates the suburban west side of Champaign for a rural course to Decatur. Photo taken by Joel Wade (12/12/04).
Perspective from Interstate 57 south
Interstate 57 angles southwest from the full cloverleaf interchange (Exits 237B/A) with I-74 to meet I-72 in two miles. Photo taken by Chris and Amber Lokken (04/06/08).
Interstate 72 links I-57 with Decatur and Springfield to the west and University Avenue east to Champaign and the University of Illinois. Photo taken by Chris and Amber Lokken (04/06/08).
Subdivisions line both sides of Interstate 57 as the freeway nears the County Road 1700 North overpass and off-ramp (Exit 235B) for Interstate 72 west. Photo taken by Chris and Amber Lokken (04/06/08).
I-72 ventures west 40 miles to Decatur and 80 miles to Springfield. Photo taken by Chris and Amber Lokken (04/06/08).
Exit 235A follows for the I-72 freeway spur to University Avenue. University Avenue flows east to State Street at West Side Park, two blocks from city hall. Church Street brings westbound traffic from Downtown to Interstate 72. Photo taken 05/24/08.
Perspective from Interstate 72 west
Mathis Avenue separates retail areas to the west from residential areas to the east to the couplet of University Avenue east and Church Street west. An overhead directs motorists to Interstate 72 west at Church Street. Photo taken 05/24/08.
Trailblazers for all three Champaign area Interstates stand at the intersection of Church Street west at County Fair Drive. The I-72 freeway commences after the adjacent traffic light. Photo taken 05/24/08.
Interstate 72 stems west from University Avenue one mile to the unnumbered ramp for I-57 north to Chicago. Photo taken 05/24/08.
The first westbound confirming marker for Interstate 72 precedes the bridge over Copper Slough and the CN Railroad. Photo taken 05/24/08.

West End US 36 US 61 MO 110 – Hannibal, Missouri

Perspective from Interstate 72 and U.S. 36-Missouri 110 (CKC) west
Westbound Interstate 72 approaches Exit 157 for U.S. 61 (McMasters Avenue). Beyond this interchange, U.S. 36 & Missouri 110 (CKC) continue westward to U.S. 24 near Withers Mill.
A replacement made for this shield array dropped both U.S. 61 Business and the Great River Road trailblazer in favor of a Missouri 110 marker. U.S. 36 Business and U.S. 61 Business were decommissioned by 2015. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (04/20/08).
A typical MoDOT end sign for Interstate 72 stands within the single point urban interchange (SPUI) at U.S. 61 (McMasters Avenue). Photo taken by Jeff Royston (02/05/08).
Perspective from Interstate 72 & U.S. 36-Missouri 110 (CKC) east
U.S. 36 & Missouri 110 (CKC) east reach the SPUI (Exit 157) with U.S. 61 (Avenue of the Saints) and former U.S. 36 Business. New London and Palmyra are county seats along the U.S. 61 corridor. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (04/20/08).
This set of shields was posted along the eastbound on-ramp from U.S. 61 (Avenue of the Saints) to Interstate 72. It was removed after 2010. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (02/05/08).
The first confirming marker for I-72 east appears along side U.S. 36 and the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway midway between the Avenue of the Saints and Missouri 79 (Mark Twain Avenue). Missouri 79 was the former east leg of U.S. 36 Business. Photo taken 04/13/13.
Perspective from U.S. 61 / McMasters Avenue north
U.S. 61 (Avenue of the Saints) travels a half mile north from a commercialized intersection with Highway MM and James Road to meet Interstate 72 east, U.S. 36 and Missouri 110 (CKC). Photo taken by Joseph Barnes (08/14/16).
The single point urban interchange (SPUI) with I-72, U.S. 36 & Missouri 110 (CKC) lies just north of the traffic light with Ely Road west and Pleasant Street east. Photo taken by Joseph Barnes (08/14/16).
U.S. 36 & Missouri 110 (CKC) east become a part of Interstate 72 as the freeway leads away from U.S. 61 (McMasters Avenue) to the Mark Twain Bridge. The subsequent interchange connects with Missouri 79 south to Downtown Hannibal. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (02/05/08).
Perspective from U.S. 61 / McMasters Avenue south
U.S. 61 transitions from a controlled access route to a five-lane commercial boulevard (McMasters Avenue) through the north side of Hannibal. McMasters Avenue continues south from the expressway end 0.7 miles to the interchange with Interstate 72 east, U.S. 36 and Missouri 110 (CKC). Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (04/18/08).

Historic Western Terminus – I-55 US 36 – Springfield, Illinois

Perspective from Interstate 55 north & U.S. 36 east
U.S. 36 split with Interstate 55 north at the forthcoming cloverleaf interchange (Exits 98A/B) with Interstate 72. Cook Street passes above the freeway in this scene as it extends from Eastdale Avenue. Cook Street west to 9th Street was formerly a part of U.S. 36 before it was relocated onto a freeway bypass south of Springfield. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
Exit 98A departed from I-55 north & U.S. 36 east for the original eastbound beginning of Interstate 72. The subsequent exit joins I-55 with Illinois 54; Illinois 54 is the pre-1972 routing of U.S. 54, from when it extended all the way to Chicago. U.S. 54 ends at its junction with Interstate 72 & U.S. 36 near Pittsfield, Illinois. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).
The first set of shields for I-72 & U.S. 36 posted after Interstate 55 and Springfield. The freeway curves northeastward from adjacent County Road 12 in this view. CR 12 is the original U.S. 36 alignment. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (02/14/03).


  1. “Interstate designation makes Marion County transportation priority list.” Hannibal Courier-Post, February 20, 2016.
  2. “Missouri highways panel hears regional transportation priorities.” Herald-Whig (Quincy, IL), September1, 2016.
  3. “REALIZATION OF A DREAM.” State Journal-Register, The (Springfield, IL), November 22, 1991.
  4. “ROAD TO THE TOP? DESIGNATION PUTS EXPRESSWAY IN THE ‘BIG LEAGUES’.” State Journal-Register, The (Springfield, IL), April 28, 1995.
  5. Route 36 Expansion – Project Information. MoDOT web site.
  6. “I-72 expansion near Hannibal on hold for now.” Herald-Whig (Quincy, IL), February 19, 2017.

Page updated January 16, 2019.