Interstate 72

From Interstate 172 into Hannibal, Missouri

Temporary end of I-72

In the 1990s, Interstate 72 was extended from Springfield, Illinois westward along the US 36 freeway until its end four miles east of Hannibal, Missouri. The new Mark Twain Memorial Bridge, opened to traffic on September 16, 2000, extends Interstate 72 into Missouri. Some of the photographs at this site were taken on August 23, 1998, while bridge construction work was underway. In order to show the area after the bridge was constructed, Rich Piehl has kindly contributed photos from a trip to the Hannibal area in June 2001.

On the Illinois side at mile-marker 6 on I-72, there was a sign marking the temporary end of I-72. The sign was two miles to the east of the point at which I-72 suddenly "became" I-172. I-172 now extends from I-72 at Seehorn to the east side of Quincy. This sign was removed in 2000 shortly before the new Mark Twain Memorial Bridge opened to traffic.

Plans for extending I-72 farther into Missouri may be years into the future. At the dedication of the new bridge, the Hannibal Courier-Post quoted the chairman of the Missouri Highway Commission, Tom Boland, as saying "it could be 10 to 15 years before US 36 is four-lane across Missouri", with additional upgrades to allow the highway to be redesignated as I-72.

In April 2005, five northeast Missouri counties voted on a special transportation district. The half-cent sales tax proposed for the district would, in combination with state bonds, have enabled a four-lane route to be built along US 36 by 2009.

Approval required a two-thirds majority of the votes cast in all five counties. The measure failed in one of the five counties. It was resubmitted for a vote in August 2005, and was approved in all five counties. Under an agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation, a four-lane route along US 36 must be completed by 2010.

More photos of Interstate 72 and US 36

New photos by Rich Piehl, taken June 2001, added August 5, 2001.

Cardiff Hill provides a good view of the new bridge. It was also an excellent vantage point over the old bridge. The hill was between the old US 36 roadway and the new freeway. Rich Piehl climbed up the stair, accessible from the old roadway, to take this and other photos of the bridge.

More Cardiff Hill photos from June 2000 (by Rich Piehl)

Cardiff Hill photos from August 1998

On August 23, 1998, most of the piers for the bridge were in place and construction had begun on the deck at the eastern end. Some photos from that day:
The hill is accessible through a stair that starts near the west end of the old bridge. Along the way to the top of the hill is a lighthouse that was used to aid navigation along the Mississippi River. It was restored in 2001 and 2002 as part of a $330,000 project to improve accessibility to the landmark.
Demolition work on the old bridge, also named the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge, began on January 8, 2001, starting from the western end of the bridge. The bridge had lasted for 64 years. Compare the old and the new with these photos from the intersection of now-former US 36 and Missouri 79 in Hannibal:
These photos from Rich Piehl show the new Interstate 72 from each side of the river:
In 1998, signs along a mile-long stretch of freeway along US 36 in Hannibal pointed to a future Interstate 72. This sign was only seen by eastbound traffic. There was no comparable sign for westbound traffic.
Trailblazer signs in Missouri pointed to Interstate 72. Even though there wasn't an Interstate 72 in Missouri in 1998, the signs said MISSOURI.
Looking west on I-72 (or was it I-172 by this point?), here's the interchange as it appeared in March 1998.
At least in Hannibal, Mark Twain is ever present, as shown by this sign advertising a downtown restaurant.
Mark Roberts
Oakland, California
E-mail: Please see the Contact Information page.
All photographs at this web site were taken by me, copyright 1998, Mark Roberts, all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted.
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