Woman who lost husband in crash asks for road projects to be a priority

John H. O'Brien of Maywood, Mo., looks over informational material on display at the Tri-State Development Summit Wednesday. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: May. 7, 2014 1:26 pm Updated: May. 21, 2014 2:14 pm
Herald-Whig Senior Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Michele Schnicker of Burlington, Iowa, went to the Tri-State Development Summit hoping to save lives.

Schnicker’s late husband, Doug, died on a dangerous stretch of U.S. 34 in Illinois last year. Not long after that, her best friend’s mother died on a two-lane stretch of U.S. 61.

“I hope the Department of Transportation will make both those roads a priority,” Schnicker said.

Working at a bank in Burlington, Schnicker said she was aware of the two road projects, but she didn’t know much about them until tragedy struck her and her friend.

She believes the campaign to complete four-lane construction has lost momentum. Summit leaders agree that work needs to occur on both those highways.

“We established a list of 1,677 miles of regional highway priorities, and we’ve seen 1,300 miles completed,” Pat Poepping, a Summit steering committee member, said.

Completion of four lanes on U.S. 34 between the Mississippi River and Monmouth, Ill., would be the final leg of the Iowa/Illinois Freight Corridor between Des Moines, Iowa and Peoria, Ill. A segment of the project is under construction near Biggsville.

The U.S. 61 upgrade has been sought for several years, but it has no active projects.

Schnicker has another reason to hope the roads are improved. She has been offered a promotion at a local bank, but she would have to travel those highways to do the job.

“I just want to see those roads completed,” she said.

Senior Writer Doug Wilson and Reporter Edward Husar will have more stories from the Tri-State Development Summit later today and Thursday. Follow @DougWilsonWhig and @EdwardHusar on Twitter for updates.