Officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation, or IDOT , met with members of the public Wednesday evening at Shawnee Community College to discuss the potential Interstate 66 corridor.
The interstate highway would run from Interstate 55 in Missouri to Interstate 24, near Paducah.
The project is still in its infancy according to Carrie Nelson, a program development engineer for IDOT. She says IDOT will first determine the projects purpose and the areas needs.
With such a large area, Nelson said an overall environmental survey is needed.
"You want to map the sensitive environmental areas," she said. "The Shawnee National Forest, the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Area, any natural areas. You want to know where your known threatened and endangered species are. You have a lot of Native American sites in this project area, historic structures."
A consulting engineering team was hired in March to begin with data collection. IDOT is collecting public input about the project, which Nelson says could cost 300 to 500 million dollars and may take 10 to 15 years to complete.
Terri Treacy from Pope County, Illinois is against the project. She thinks its a waste of money.
"I think we have enough highways already running through here," Treacy said. "We already have 57 and 24 that run through southernmost Illinois. I think this is just a big boondoggle, an unneeded highway.
She and other opponents to the project have formed a group called Citizens for Southernmost Illinois to fight the I-66 highway.