Illinois Roads - I-270


All photos on I-270 are westbound.

This one is northbound, on IL 203. Illinois loves using highways as destinations. In this case, it might make sense, because IL 203 ends in less than a mile at I-270, becoming Chain of Rocks Road and joining the alignment of US 66. (Chain of Rocks used to cross the railroad here as a continuous 66 alignment, but 203 was also one of many US 66 alignments in the St. Louis area.)

Just across the railroad from IL 203 (Exit 4) is parent IL 3, coincidentally at Exit 3. Great River Road shields have usually been green, but it seems that Illinois is pushing to recolor them. It would be nice to make them the same size as other shields so that people can tell that it's a paddlewheel and not a jellyfish or a gum stain.

So we already had two alignments of US 66 meeting each other at Exit 4, and I'll now show you that I-270 is a third alignment. This is also far from the final total. I-270's US 66 is an impostor - it was only the latest routing of Bypass US 66, a concept that debuted in 1938 but was not bannered until it was rerouted onto I-270's New Chain of Rocks Bridge in 1958. Before 1938 and after 1969, when I-270 replaced the Bypass route, US 66 ran through downtown St. Louis.

The interesting part of the Chain of Rocks Bridge is out of the way early, across the Chain of Rocks Canal on the east side of Chouteau Island. The Mississippi River crossing is mundane. Sadly, this pair of trusses is also about to be replaced, leaving nothing of note for I-270 - or for Bypass US 66, which is a historical outrage.

The original Chain of Rocks Bridge crosses the canal to the south.

Unlike its New variant, the Chain of Rocks Bridge's Mississippi River crossing remains interesting. In fact, it has a kink in its alignment approaching Missouri, which would have been hairy for two cars passing and impossible with a truck. The old bridge also features two objects that appear to be lighthouses, but they are actually former water intake towers for St. Louis. It's hard to gauge their size, but I believe each window represents 1 story, as they were once occupied and indeed lit (like lighthouses). Before the canal was constructed, the lit towers marked the navigational channel through a brief stretch of rapids.

Into Missouri on I-270
Over to the Chain of Rocks Bridge
See more of former US 66
Exit 3 to IL 3
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