US 71 Turning into Interstate-49 South of Kansas City
A 180-mile stretch of U.S. 71 from south Kansas City to Joplin will become an interstate highway by the end of the year.
Transportation officials say the official change to the interstate system is scheduled for Dec. 12.
The change is part of a long-term goal to have a direct connection all the way to New Orleans.
U.S. 71 is already a divided highway with a 70 mph speed limit. Changing the road to an interstate means eliminating all intersections and crossroads along the road.
The Missouri Department of Transportation has awarded $63.3 million since 2009 to remove crossings along the highway. Four new overpasses and nine new interchanges, along with three outer roads, have been built.