66 Corridor Study

The 66 Corridor is part of the East-West Transamerica Corridor, congressionally designated as a high priority highway extending from Virginia through Kansas. The study area for the 66 Corridor encompasses nearly 2,500 square miles spanning five counties in Illinois (Massac, Pulaski, Alexander, Union, and Johnson); two counties in Kentucky (McCracken and Ballard); and three counties in Missouri (Cape Girardeau, Scott, and Mississippi).

Lochmueller Group (Lochgroup) is studying the most feasible option for transportation improvements from Paducah, Kentucky to Interstate 55 in Missouri as a major partner in the Little Egypt Joint Venture. The effort, led by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), will evaluate the need for the corridor and the impact of any transportation improvements. It will also identify and evaluate alternative alignments as part of a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The study area features a variety of terrain ranging from steeply rolling sections of karst terrain to river bottoms and farmland. It also features a number of historic sites, such as Native American and Civil War sites, and environmentally-sensitive areas, such as the Cache River Basin. Lack of access, particularly in Southern Illinois, however, has left the region economically challenged.

Lochgroup is responsible for all environmental documentation and drafting the Purpose and Need Statement for agency review and approval as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Lochgroup will then help develop preliminary alternative alignments and oversee environmental data collection to assess the impacts of various alternatives on environmental, cultural, and socio-economic resources ranging from archeological sites to wetlands to endangered species.

Key to the success of the Tier 1 EIS will be a stakeholder involvement program built on the principles of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) and an alternatives development and evaluation process that utilizes a Geographic Information System (GIS) database.

Lochgroup’s responsibilities include:

  • Directing the development of the Purpose and Need Statement
  • Coordinating and directing the development of the EIS
  • Supporting engineering and environmental reports
  • Developing alternative and selection matrix
  • Developing structural concepts
  • Preparing corridor studies
  • Conducting travel demand modeling
  • Preparing traffic studies
  • Assisting in the development of the GIS database
  • Assisting in the stakeholder outreach program including the implementation of the CSS policy

At the end of Tier 1, IDOT will decide whether to proceed to a Tier 2 EIS. If so, supporting engineering reports for a preferred alternative within the preferred corridor identified in Tier 1 will be developed.

To aid in this effort a travel demand model will be created to forecast traffic flows in the study area. A national- and regional-scale modeling approach will be employed. A national-scale travel analysis zone (TAZ) layer and highway network will address long-distance travel including freight truck trips and long-distance auto passenger travel. The national scale enables the model to identify long-distance trips, such as those between St. Louis, Missouri and Nashville, Tennessee, that would be attracted to a new transportation corridor in Southern Illinois. A regional-scale TAZ layer and road network will focus on short-distance auto and truck trips at a regional scale that includes the 11 study area counties.

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