More support for Southwest Connector

The Four-County Highway Coalition continues to see progress as it pushes for the Southwest Illinois Connector, a project that’s been in the works since the 1950s.

The proposed connector would be a four-lane highway starting along Route 3 south of Waterloo, traveling just south of Red Bud and north of Sparta before rejoining Route 154, turning to avoid Pinckneyville and join Route 127 to Murphysboro.

Proponents of the project suggest the addition of a major highway connecting more of Southern Illinois with the St. Louis metro area would help encourage economic progress in the area while also providing greater ease of travel for healthcare and other needs.

Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens, who serves as chairman of the Southwest Connector Project, recently shared an announcement describing the coalition’s progress.

Stephens placed particular emphasis on recent meetings he’s had with a number of officials and business leaders in communities along the proposed connector route.

He said a meeting with Illinois USDA Director Betsy Dirksen Londrigan provided him with information regarding how the project rates on the Illinois Department of Transportation data-driven decisions tool which is used to determine how the department invests in projects around the state.

Illinois Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell discussed the viability of the project and offered to speak with IDOT Director Omer Osman about a possible $15 million grant that could go toward engineering for the project, according to Stephens.

Stephens also said U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth spoke about circulating a delegation letter for the project once IDOT expresses its support.

Duckworth previously expressed willingness to circulate the letter this past July.

Stephens further noted the number of individuals he’s in the process of contacting to solicit support for the project.

“There are a multitude of other companies and officials that I have yet to contact for support letters, but plan to,” Stephens said. “I have set a goal to get 100 letters of support for the project over the next 2-4 months.”

Stephens also pointed to several testimonials that have been posted on the Southwest IL Connector Facebook page.

One of these comes from Carbondale Councilwoman Carolin Harvey, who is currently serving as the city’s Mayor Pro Tempore.

“On behalf of the Carbondale City Council, and the City of Carbondale, I’m writing to express our support for the Southwest Illinois Connector Highway,” Harvey said. “We believe that when complete, this highway will produce measurable benefits for the residents of Murphysboro, Carbondale and the greater Southern Illinois region.”

Another comes from State Sen. Terri Bryant, who has played a significant role in revitalizing the project in recent years.

“As the project moves forward, I want decision makers at the state and federal levels to understand that as the 58th District State Senator, I fully support the Four-County Highway Coalition’s efforts to explore and implement a plan to develop the four-lane highway project,” Bryant said.

For more information on the Southwest Illinois Connector, visit the Four-County Highway Coalition website at

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Andrew Unverferth

HTC web