Interstate 39, IllinoisRoads of the Mid-South & West > Highways of the State of Illinois > Interstate 39, Illinois

Interstate 39

Interstate 39 is one of the newer interstates in Illinois. This is a north-south route, running in North-Central Illinois. I-39 starts at I-55 and runs north along U.S. Rt. 51 to the Wisconsin Line north of Rockford.

Plans for I-39 date back to 1945 when the United States began planning the first 40,000 mile interstate system. An intial request was for a north-south highway from South Beloit, Wisconsin to Salem, Illinois. In 1956 legislation provided $25 billion in funding, but the project was deemed a low priority. During the calender year of 1962, there were 531 crashes along U.S. Rt. 51 between Rockford and Decatur. Eleven fatlities were included. In 1969, the Illinois legislation started promting the need for a highway in this corridor. Ten year later, in 1979, work began on the interstate highway. The frist leg of I-39 from Rockford to Rochelle opened in 1984. The portion between La Salle-Peru and Bloomington-Normal began in 1987. In 1992 the final leg of the existing portion of I-39 between Illinois State Route 116 and Kappa was completed and the highway from Rockford to Bloomington-Normal was opened.

On Sunday, November 3rd, 2002 and Monday, November 3rd, 2002 the Pantagraph (Bloomington-Normal, Illinois) did several articles on the impact of Interstate 39 to the Central Illinois region when it replaced U.S. Rt. 51. Before I-39, U.S. Rt. 51 was mostly a narrow two-lane highway. It recieved the nickname "Killer 51", from being home to many horrid accidents. The Hudson Fire Departments territory ran along U.S. Rt. 51 from the Mackinaw River Bridge, north of Evergreen Lake to north of Normal, in Mc Lean County. In the three years prior to the completion of I-39, the department says that 22 lives were lost in the 9.5 mile section of the highway.

Another aspect of the articles were how the completion of I-39 affected several smaller towns along the former alignment of U.S. Rt. 51. Three towns were fetured, Lostant, Rutland, and Wenona.
Wenona prospered the most. They bought land and constructed a business park with a T.I.F. District. Lostant is starting to try and benifit from the highway. Rutland has become the town lost in the shuffle.

While in Illinois, I-39 is multi-plexed several times.

I-39 is multi-plexed with...

...Interstate 90, (Addams Tollway) from the Wisconsin/Illinois State Line to Cherry Valley.

...U.S. Rt. 20, from M.P. 122 at Cherry Valley to M.P. 119 near Rockford.

...U.S. Rt. 51, from near the Wisconsin/Illinois State Line to I-39 at Normal.



As proposed back in 1945, the State of Illinois is considering extending I-39 south to Centralia. U.S. Rt. 51 was widened to four-lanes between Bloomington and Decatur. In this stretch it also by-passes several towns and carries a speed of 65 M.P.H. in rural areas. At Decatur, U.S. Rt. 51 joines Interstate 72 and by-passes the metro. Currently, a by-pass around Moweaqua for U.S. Rt. 51. Pictures are avalible here, U.S. Rt. 51-Shelby County. Sen. Duane Noland, R-Blue Mound says "The project is back alive again."

The highway from Bloomington to Decatur is "limited-access". This mean that most access is through at-grade intersections, with some stop-lights. Thus proventing interstate status.

The mayor of Pana told the Pantagraph in the November 4th issue that a four-lane U.S. Rt. 51 has been talked about for over 50 years. During the recent elections in Illinois, both canidates pledges to contiune the construction. In the spring of 2002, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announces there would be no new money for construction, except for two items. One being the current work at Moweaqua, and $1.5 million for land purchase to create a smooth route around Pana.

Interstate 39 currently ends at Normal with a interchange at Interstate 55 near Interstate 74. Along the east-side of Bloomington-Normal, Interstate 55/74 is in the being widened from four to six lanes. Near the interchange of Interstate 55/74 and Busn Loop I-55 on the southwestside of Bloomington, the new BGS for I-74/U.S. Rt. 51 leave space for a possible I-39 shield in the future.

At Decatur, U.S. Rt. 51 is routed along Interstate 72. When I-72 goes west to Springfield, U.S. Rt. 51 continues along a expressway wrapping around the southwest and southside of the metro. After a interchange with BUSN U.S. Rt. 51 on the southside of Decatur, U.S. Rt. 51 returnes to a limited access highway. On the northside of Decatur, along I-72, the highway's median widens for a interchange. The embankments for a tri-level stack exist. Photos of the un-finished interchange are on the page for Interstate 72, Illinois.

Interstates that I-39 cross in Illinois...

Interstate 90, (Addams Tollway) near Rockford.

BGS directing traffic on NB I-39.

BGS on NB I-39.

NB I-39 at I-90.

A BGS on SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90.

A BGS two miles from the interchange.

A BGS one mile from the split of I-39 & I-90.

Another BGS on SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90.

EB I-90 at SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51.

Interstate 88, (Reagan Tollway) near Rochelle.

SB I-39 at the first sign for I-88.

BGS on SB I-39.

SB I-39 at I-88.

SB I-39 at EB I-88.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 over one mile from I-88/IL St Rt 110.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 under one mile from I-88/IL St Rt 110.

A BGS on NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 for EB I-88.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at I-88/IL St Rt 110.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at WB I-88/IL St Rt 110.

Interstate 80, near La Salle-Peru.

First BGS on NB I-80/U.S. Rt. 51.

Overhead markers one mile from the interchange.

Second overhead oon NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at the ramp for EB I-80.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at the ramp for WB I-80.

SB I-39 two miles from I-80.

SB I-39 one mile from I-80.

A BGS on SB I-39 for WB I-80 with La Salle-Peru as the control city vs. Des Moines.

SB I-39 at WB I-80.

SBN I-39 at EB I-80.
Interstate 55, at Normal.

The frist BGS for I-55 on SB I-39.

A set of BGS's on SB I-55.

SB I-39 near I-55.

SB I-39 at I-55.

Toll Plazas on I-39

South Beloit Toll Plaza #1 near South Beloit. Toll=$0.50 Cars with I-PASS; $1.00 Cars with Cash

Toll warning sign on NB I-39/WB I-90. (Sept. 2003)

Lane marker over NB I-39/WB I-90. (Sept. 2003)

Stop ahead marker. (Sept. 2003)

NB I-39/WB I-90 at the South Beloit Toll Plaza. (Sept. 2003)

The first toll wrning sign on SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90.

A lane marking sign on SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90.

The stop ahead sign on SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90.

The first toll warning sign on SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90. (April, 2007)

The half mile sign for the toll plaza on SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90. (April, 2007)

The lane markers near the plaza on SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90. (April, 2007)

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90 at the divide for the I-PASS and Cash lanes. (April, 2007)

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90 at the South Beloit Plaza. (April, 2007)

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90 at the I-PASS Lanes. (April, 2007)
Cherry Valley/South Rockford Toll Plaza #3 at Cherry Valley. Toll REMOVED December, 2004

NB I-39 near the Cherry Valley Toll Plaza. (Sept. 2003)

NB I-39 at the Cherry Valley Toll Plaza. (Sept. 2003)

Plaza marker on NB I-39.

Price marker on NB I-39.
On December 2nd, 2003 the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority released a press release on the future of the Cherry Valley Toll Plaza and the South Beloit Toll Plaza, both along the Northwest Tollway. Illinois State Govenor Rod Blagojevich announced in Rockford that the southbound exit toll at the Cherry Valley Toll Plaza would be eliminated by the end of 2003. To make up for the lose revenue. The toll at the South Beloit Plaza would be raised from $0.40 to $0.50. Also, new I-PASS lanes would be added to the South Beloit Plaza. These would be similar to one currently on Interstate 355, North-South Tollway. Work on that project should start in Spring 2004.

On November 23, 2004 Governor Rod Blagojevich announced the removal of the final tolls at the Cherry Valley Plaza. These were removed to eliminate the congestion that the plaza created.


There are no Branches or Busn. Loops of I-39 in Illinois.




NB I-39 at the begin marker.

The southern end of I-39 and the ramp to SB I-55.

The southern end marker on this ramp.

The southend end of I-39 on the ramp to NB I-55.

The southern end marker on this ramp.

A guide sign on EB I-74.

Directional signs at the interchange of I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 and BUSN. U.S. Rt. 51 north of Normal.

Guide sign on BUSN U.S. Rt. 51 at the Junction of I-39/U.S. Rt. 51.

Looking north at I-39 at BUSN. U.S. Rt. 51 north of Normal.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of BUSN U.S. Rt. 51.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of BUSN U.S. Rt. 51. (July, 2014)

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of Hudson.

A BGS on SB IL St Rt 251.

NB I-39 at the Mc Lean/Woodford County Line.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of Lake Bloomington.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 near El Paso.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of IL St Rt 116.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of Minook.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at the Marshall/Woodford County Line.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of IL St Rt 17.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 near Wenona. From Left to Right, Frontage Road, SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51, NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51, IL St Rt 251.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 in northern Marshall County.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at the La Salle/Marshall County Line.

NB I-39 in Rural La Salle County.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of IL St Rt 18.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 south of Tonica.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 near Tonica.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 south of Oglesby.

NB guide markers north of I-80.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of I-80.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of La Salle-Peru.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 south of Troy Grove.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of U.S. Rt. 52.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 north of U.S. Rt. 34.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at the La Salle/Lee County Line.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at the La Salle/Lee County Line.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 south of Paw Paw.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 near Paw Paw.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 south of Steward.

A BGS east of Steward.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at the Lee/Ogle County Line.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at the Lee/Ogle County Line.

A BGS on EB I-88.

A junction marker on EB IL St Rt 38.

A set of guide markers on WB IL St Rt 38.

A guide BGS on WB IL St Rt 38.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at the Ogle/Winnebago County Line.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at the Ogle/Winnebago County Line.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 south of Baxter Road.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 in Southern Winnebago County.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 south of U.S. Rt. 20.

A BGS on NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51.

A guide marker on NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51.

Interstate 39/U.S. Rt. 51 at U.S. Rt. 20, Rockford.

Diagram of the interchange on the Southside of Rockford.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 one mile from U.S. Rt. 20.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 near U.S. Rt. 20.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 at U.S. Rt. 20.
NOTE: Look at the SB lanes (on the left) see the "ghost" ramp.

The ramp from EB U.S. Rt. 20 to SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51.
Traffic from SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51 merges from the left.

A closer look at the "ghost" ramp from the picture above.

A BGS on SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; WB U.S. Rt. 20.

WB U.S. Rt. 20 at SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51.


A set of guide markers on SB IL St Rt 251.

A BGS on WB U.S. Rt. 20.

A BGS on EB U.S. Rt. 20.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51/EB U.S. Rt. 20 at Cherry Valley.

A BGS on WB I-90.

A BGS on WB I-90.

A BGS on EB East Riverside Blvd.

SB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; EB I-90 near Rockford.

NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; WB I-90 on the northwest side of Rockford.

Tollway thank you sign on NB I-39/U.S. Rt. 51; WB I-90.

A BGS on EB Winnebago County Highway 9.

A junction marker on SB U.S. Rt. 51/EB IL St Rt 75.

A junction marker on WB IL St Rt 75.

A BGS on IL St Rt 75.

A BGS on WB IL St Rt 75.

SB I-39/EB I-90 at the Illinois Welcome Sign.

SB I-39/EB I-90 at the Illinois Welcome Sign.

2 October 2014