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Route 66 News

A look at off-limits Route 66 in McCook

Joliet Road, McCook, Ill

A few weeks ago, Roamin’ Rich Dinkela — with the help of a drone helicopter — created this video about the closed section of Route 66 near McCook, Illinois.

The approximate one-mile section of Joliet Road, aka Route 66, was closed about 2001 when the road became dangerously unstable because of alleged undermining by Vulcan Materials quarries on both sides of the road.

In the video, you can see how the road is a narrow strip of land, with gouged-out sections on both sides of it.

In 2010, Vulcan Materials settled a lawsuit with the state of Illinois for $40 million over the road’s closure. The company didn’t admit liability for damage to the road, but it’s telling it agreed to the settlement just days before the lawsuit was supposed to go to trial. And had such footage existed when the trial was about to occur, it’s difficult to imagine a jury or judge believing Vulcan that its activities did no harm to the road.

It’s doubtful the section of road ever will be reopened. Traffic is detoured onto a two-mile stretch of 55th Street and East Avenue.

(Screen capture of video of Joliet Road in McCook, Illinois)

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26 thoughts on “A look at off-limits Route 66 in McCook

  1. Ron Shepard

    Sorry but this is NOT the birthplace of highway route 66. Springfield Missouri is Officially recognized as the birthplace of Route 66, it was in Springfield on April 30, 1926, that officials first proposed the name of the new Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway.

  2. DynoDave

    Wow, scary looking stretch of road. I had heard about this stretch of 66, but never seena view of it like that. Thanks Rich!

  3. Jennie E.

    I believe Vulcan should be held responsible and pay for a bridge to restore this portion. I’ve lived here my whole life and was saddened when they had to close the road.

    1. Kelly

      I ate they should have to fix it. It has screwed up traffic for way too long!! That is a road I used to get to and from work for many years and now it’s a real pain going to and from work!!

  4. Lynne Marie

    Traveled this stretch many a time before it closed, often wondered what it looks like now, thanks for the aerial view. I too believe Vulcan should build a bridge over the span as eventually with all the mining that section will crumble and cave anyway.

  5. Lane Stripe

    Dear Jennie E. In fact, Vulcan Materials was sued by the State of Illinois for the damage to the roadway. It was settled out of court before it went to trial for an undisclosed amount. Vulcan admitted no wrongdoing. However, this goes a very little way toward putting the road back, which certainly won’t happen until after the quarry s depleted and Vulcan materials has flown the coop.

  6. Debra Bethard-Caplick

    I agree with Jennie – the state should have made Vulcan pay to bridge this. I lived in Lyons then, near the eastern edge of this stretch, and used to travel it to Hodgkins (at the westen edge of this stretch) to work every day. Vulcan knew EXACTLY what they were doing.

  7. Dave

    As a kid I remember always driving thru this stretch of road and seing both sides of the quarry. I even remember my Dad saying many times how the blasts occurring in the Quarry is slowly chipping away at this stretch of road. Then in 2001 all traffic was rerouted to the present day route for that reason. Road was just plain unsafe. It was a headache to get around, now no one even notices and it adds two minutes to your commute.

  8. Bill Merker

    Drove that road every day on the way home from work. Then one day, cracks developed and originally it was temporarily closed for structural review. Never opened again. Detour around is tolerable most of the time.

  9. JAKL

    I grew up just the other side of that quarry. Unfortunately, I don’t think a bridge will do any good until Vulcan decides they’re done with the site. Not all of the damage is from them stripping out the limestone. Some (possibly a large amount) is from their blasting Hell, they’ve triggered earthquakes (according to USGS) with their blasting!

    1. Leslie

      I grew up in that area also and drove on that section almost every day for 10 years as an adult, up until it was closed. Didn’t really surprise anyone, it was “common” knowledge that one day it would just collapse. Fortunately, it was closed before that happened. From what I understand, along with the blasting and digging, there was a honeycomb of service roads running under Rt. 66.

  10. Vic

    I drove that stretch of road for years and never knew it was closed until this video. It’s sad to see a part of Americana destroyed by capitalism as always. When I was a a kid we actually drove route 66 all the way to California and back. There is something to be said for nostalgia.

    1. Barbara J Neumayer

      Grew up in La Grange, but my dad worked for some pipefitting company in McCook. Something like Panelit??? My dad died in 1972, so when he worked there. So it was over 50 years ago. Yes… things have changed and I miss those old days a lot sometimes. Thanks for sharing your video. Enjoyed the pictures of the beautiful scenery… before the coal company destroyed it. Hugs.

  11. cbowren

    I’m across the road from the quarry on 55th. The blasts shake our building pretty good. Always fun when we have temps and they’re like “what the heck?” and the regulars are just “oh, must be the 2pm blast. No worries.”

  12. Frank

    Great video, now with that drone you can actually see how unstable that road would be. Someone should be in jail for this crime to a public road. Someday the quarry will be filled with garbage.

  13. deborah

    Awesome view but it’s been closed since May 1998. We had to reroute our wedding reception that year. There was talk of reopening it but it never happened. Was’t scary when it was open.

  14. CuriousTraveler66 (@CuriousTravel66)

    @ Ron Shepard — No, the story doesn’t even hint at your point, so I don’t see why you even brought it up. However, Springfield, MO is the only entity that considers Springfield, MO the birthplace of Route 66 (perhaps because the town has few other claims to fame?). It’s only “official” per *them,* not anyone really official like, say, the National Park Service or USDOT. Thus, only a claim by Springfield, not a fact. If you want to be REALLY precise, one could argue that the birthplace of Route 66 was either the meeting room months earlier where the path of the proposed route was first hammered out in early 1925 by the members of the Joint Board — which was NOT in Springfield — or the place where the annual meeting was being held and where the entire system was approved by the members of AASHO on November 11, 1926 — which is when the route actually came into existence officially (the annual meeting was in Pinehurst, NC, nowhere near the route’s path). You should read the route history about the process AAHSO went through on the USDOT website.

    FYI: Proposing a name does *not * a baby make (you need conception for that, remember?). To insist otherwise is like trying to have a christening before the birth! The same goes for numbering roads. Yeah, the number was proposed in Springfield, but that’s incidental; if AAHSO hadn’t approved it at their annual meeting — along with all the rest of the routes in the U.S. Route System — proposing the number would have been meaningless. Assigning a number didn’t actually create the road. Besides, the path of the proposed route was already established by then … so merely assigning a number was not the key thing to making the route real. Doing the work to determine its path and giving it final approval were. Moreover, the only state in which the route was completely paved and open for business from the start was Illinois, where the entire length of the route was operational on Day One. So in a practical sense, Route 66 was born on November 11, 1926 the moment the vote was taken — but it came into being for drivers that day **in Chicago** at the Eastern Terminus, where Illinois’s fully completed section of the route began. So much for Springfield, MO. Too bad. Not that that will keep anyone in Springfield from insisting on their erroneous claim … like a godfather claiming responsibility for the godchild’s existence. That’s just silly.

    Incidentally, you can find the full history of how the route system was created here: Weingroff, Richard S., “From Names to Numbers – The Origins of the U.S. Numbered Highway System,” USDOT Federal Highway Administration website; accessed June 2014 at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/numbers.cfm

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