Illinois Roads - IL 3
Looking west from the beautiful city of East St. Louis, nationally renowned for its low crime rates and... okay, I'm not fooling anyone, but IL 3 does technically run through city limits, although it skirts to the west of the neighborhoods with the nation's highest violent crime rates. The first photo is the approach to the MacArthur Bridge, and the second views the skyline from within the southern IL 3/I-55/I-64 interchange. The tall truss in the first photo is unrelated to the railroad tracks that rise behind it - it once carried a roadway approach to a shared Mississippi River span. Most of the road, which ran on top of the tracks, has been removed, but what's left on the Missouri side constitutes an old alignment of US 66.
IL 3 SB jumps onto the left lane as I-64/US 40 WB (next two lanes) merge into I-55 (right two lanes), courtesy Chris Pangilinan. I-70 used to come with I-55, but it now heads northwest from here on a new alignment.
Cedar St. NB, which picks up IL 3 here as it comes off the McKinley Bridge. What you're seeing here are utility poles and the tree line running north-south, while the road curves away to come to a T. Clearly, Cedar St. once went straight here, and IL 3 had to turn onto and off of it. Before the early 1970s, there was no modern, multi-lane alignment for IL 3, and furthermore, there was an entire neighborhood north of the bridge and west of the RR tracks that was removed to make room for the new highway. I'm not seeing any historical major floods that would have justified demolishing this many houses, so it must have been a decision to upgrade IL 3 that led to the clearcutting.
Incidentally, if you look to the right of the IL 3 shields, underneath the first overhead signal pole, you'll see a nondescript brown patch, which is in fact a short concrete stub. IL 3 SB veers away from the NB side and then comes back at the signal, but the stub hints at a closer alignment
I always appreciate seeing a 66 gas station on the 66 road. This signage continues from I-270 just to the north, turning travelers from IL 3 SB to Chain of Rocks Road EB. Old US 66 also went to the right, toward Chain of Rocks Bridge, and straight on IL 3. And it ran both ways on what's now I-270. And there were other alignments that never came through here, the nearest of which is IL 203.
There was once a full cloverleaf between I-270 and IL 3. These SB photos, looking west, show a new direct SB-WB ramp replacing the old WB-SB loop, and the other SB loop (to I-270 EB) has also been removed. Just after that was done, work started in the background, where you see cranes next to the Chain of Rocks Canal Bridge trusses, to construct a new crossing for I-270. That new crossing opened in summer 2014 and sadly spells the demise of the old bridges. The worst part is that the new bridge is completely nondescript.
See more of the MacArthur Bridge
Exit 2A to Eads Bridge
Exit 2B/2C to ML King Bridge
Onto former US 66, Chain of Rocks Rd.
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