I absolutely despise getting involved in politics and I don't plan to start now. However, I need to dive into a touchy topic that I've heard brought up constantly again over the past few weeks. Is it finally time for Hannibal's much-debated Highway 61 bypass?

I have heard heated opinions on both sides of this topic and I am sympathetic to both. It's not exactly breaking news that traffic on McMasters/Highway 61 in Hannibal is a bear just about any time during the day. It's so prevalent you can see huge congestion even just randomly looking at Google Street View.

Google Maps Street View

When I'm in Hannibal and I know that McMasters is a part of my travels, I automatically have to add 5 minutes (at least) to wherever I'm going. I've also lost count of how many serious accidents have happened on that stretch of road over the years due to the massive amount of vehicles that constantly traverse it.

On the other side of the coin (literally), many businesses are understandably concerned that a bypass would cause a loss of revenue for the city and those that make their living in it.

The MODOT website has an interesting page dedicated to what would be the Hannibal Expressway. I don't want to misquote, so here's the exact phrasing for that project:

The U.S. Route 61 Bypass, also known as the Hannibal Expressway, is not currently funded for construction. Environmental work was completed several years ago along a potential location for the bypass, Route M, just south of Hannibal, connecting to the U.S. 36/U.S. 24 interchange near the Rocket Plaza. A second location consideration was given to Trabue Lane, which is between Route M and Hannibal; however, no additional work has been done since funding was not going to be available in the foreseeable future.

It's a hot topic. Traffic is bad, but businesses are afraid and where will the funding come from? I don't have answers to any of those questions, but the big question has gone from a murmur to a dull roar again. Is it finally time for the bypass project to be completed in Hannibal?

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