Interstate 44: Wikis

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Interstate 44 shield
Interstate 44
Main route of the Interstate Highway System
Length: 633.79 mi[1] (1,019.99 km)
West end: US 277 / US 281 / US 287 in Wichita Falls, TX
Major
junctions:
I-40 in Oklahoma City, OK
I-35 in Oklahoma City, OK
US 71 near Joplin, MO
I-55 in St. Louis, MO
I-64 I-70 US 40 in St. Louis, MO
East end: I-55 I-64 I-70 US 40 at the Illinois state line in St. Louis, MO

Interstate 44 (I-44) is an Interstate Highway in the central United States. Its western terminus is in Wichita Falls, Texas at concurrency with US 277, US 281 and US 287; its eastern terminus is at the Illinois state line on the Poplar Street Bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri at concurrency with Interstate 55, Interstate 64, Interstate 70, and US 40 (as per the Federal Highway Administration [1] ). Interstate 44 is one of five interstates built to bypass U.S. Route 66; this highway covers the section between St. Louis and Oklahoma City. Virtually the entire length of the Interstate east of Springfield, Missouri was once US 66 which was upgraded from two to four lanes between 1949 and 1955. The section of I-44 west of Springfield was built further south than US 66 in order to connect Missouri's section with the already completed Will Rogers Turnpike, which Oklahoma wished to carry their part of I-44.

Interstate 44 is referenced in the song "Convoy" by C.W. McCall.

Contents

Route description

Lengths
  mi km
TX 15 24
OK 329 530
MO 290 467
Total 634 1021
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Texas

I-44 begins in Wichita Falls and runs due north to the Texas-Oklahoma border at the Red River. Texas holds I-44 as the shortest segment of the freeway as there are only about 15 miles (24 km) of that highway within the state. In Wichita Falls I-44 runs concurrent US-277, US-281, and US-287 and is known locally as "Central Freeway"

Oklahoma

I-44 in Oklahoma is a toll road most of the way, paralleled by former U.S. 66 from Oklahoma City to the Missouri state line. In southwestern Oklahoma, I-44 is the H.E. Bailey Turnpike and follows a north–south direction. In the Oklahoma City metro section range from 6-8 lanes, also I-44 overlaps I-35 for a short time in Oklahoma City. From Oklahoma City I-44 shifts its direction to east–west and follows the Turner Turnpike until Tulsa. As I-44 leaves Tulsa it becomes the Will Rogers Turnpike to the Missouri border.

Missouri

I-44/55/64/70 on one freeway sign in downtown St. Louis

I-44 enters Missouri southwest of Joplin at a point near the corner of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. It misses the state of Kansas by less than 200 yards (180 m). A marker is erected at the point, which can be visited on State Line Road after exiting at US-166. The road continues through the south edge of Joplin, then continues east on the pathway of US-166 to Mount Vernon. At the northeast part of Mount Vernon, I-44 heads northeast, while old US-166 continued east on Missouri Route 174. The section of road to Halltown is a completely new road, not bypassing any previous highways. At Halltown, the road follows the general pathway of US-66 all the way to downtown St. Louis.

I-44 passes through Springfield on the north side of the city and continues northeast. At Waynesville, I-44 enters a very hilly curvy area until it passes Rolla. Although the road still passes through some hilly areas, none are as steep as that particular stretch.

At Pacific, I-44 begins to widen to six lanes, later to eight lanes. The interstate continues into the suburbs of St. Louis, finally ending near the Mississippi River at the intersection with I-55. Plans for the new I-70 Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Bridge will result in a planned extension by MODOT of I-44 northward [2], multiplexing with I-55 briefly until I-55 crosses the Poplar Street Bridge, and then taking over the former route of I-70 to where it meets the new bridge.

At some places, an "Alternate I-44" is posted. One such ran between Rolla and Springfield via US-60 and US-63 and another ran via US-63 and US-50 between Rolla and Union. These were done to provide traffic relief during road work. The latter of these alternate routes detoured traffic around three hour delays due to road work near Cuba.

History

I-44 in Oklahoma City

I-44 was originally signed in 1958 as an Interstate designation of the Turner Turnpike linking Oklahoma City and Tulsa and the Will Rogers Turnpike linking Tulsa and the Missouri state line southwest of Joplin, along with the US 66 bypass in Tulsa that linked that city with the two turnpikes and the continued four-lane highway from the Missouri border to an interchange with US 71 south of Joplin previously designated as US 166.

As U.S. 66 was being bypassed by I-44, the Route 66 Association requested the designation Interstate 66 for I-44 from St. Louis to Oklahoma City. AASHTO rejected the request.[3]

At the time the I-44 designation was assigned in Oklahoma in the 1950s, Oklahoma signed the milemarkers west to east starting at Turner Turnpike's Oklahoma City terminus at the I-44/I-35 interchange (near Edmond). I-44 was extended in 1982 southwest of Oklahoma City along the existing H.E. Bailey Turnpike, thus raising the milemarkers by about 100. The addition of the new section was unusual in that it is a more north/south segment, and didn't directly connect to the previous western end at Interstate 35. Although it now extends south of Interstate 40, numerous Interstate highways also fall out of a perfect grid, including most of Interstate 85 egregiously, and also less obvious outliers in parts of Interstates 24, 26, 39, northernmost 59, western future 66, some of new and all of future 69, Ohio's section of 71, 73, eastern 74, southernmost 81, 82, the east end of eastern future 86, southernmost 89, Boston's section of 93, and all of 99.

What was once I-244 around St. Louis is currently part of that city's I-270/I-255 beltway.

During the historic 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak, an F5 tornado hit Interstate 44. This particular tornado had the fastest tornado wind speeds on record. The interstate was severely damaged where the tornado crossed it. In the end, this tornado was blamed for 36 deaths.

A section of I-44 was moved slightly north between Powellville, Missouri and Doolittle. The old road is highly visible for eastbound traffic near Powellville. As of April 2006, the rocks carved away for the new roadbed have virtually no lichen, reflecting that this construction occurred rather recently. [4]

Auxiliary routes

See also

Business routes

Main article: Business routes of Interstate 44.

All business loops of Interstate 44 are located in Missouri. They serve Joplin, Sarcoxie, Mount Vernon, Springfield, Lebanon, Waynesville-St. Robert, Rolla, and Pacific. A business spur links I-44 with Fort Leonard Wood.

References

  1. ^ Route Log - Main Routes of the Eisenhower National System Of Interstate and Defense Highways - Table 1
  2. ^ http://www.newriverbridge.org/documents/NMRBRe-Evaluation%203.pdf
  3. ^ McNichol, Dan. The Roads that Built America: The Incredible Story of the U.S. Interstate System. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc, 2006.
  4. ^ Aerial photo
Main Interstate Highways (major interstates highlighted)
4 5 8 10 12 15 16 17 19 20 22 24 25 26 27 29 30
35 37 39 40 43 44 45 49 55 57 59 64 65 66 68 69
70 71 72 73 74 75 76 (W) 76 (E) 77 78 79 80 81 82
83 84 (W) 84 (E) 85 86 (W) 86 (E) 87 88 (W) 88 (E) 89 90
91 93 94 95 96 97 99 (238) H-1 H-2 H-3
Unsigned  A-1 A-2 A-3 A-4 PRI-1 PRI-2 PRI-3
Lists  Primary  Main - Intrastate - Suffixed - Future - Gaps
Auxiliary  Main - Future - Unsigned
Other  Standards - Business - Bypassed

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