With the designation of former U.S. Route 71 to become part of Interstate 49, this week, the plan for an uninterrupted I-49 is beginning to take shape.

The latest roadway to become part of the interstate, the new segment of I-49 in Missouri is integral for the completion of the 1,600 miles of continuous interstate, which will help improve freight movement throughout the central United States from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, commercial trucks already account for nearly a third of the traffic on the former US-71, and is the Kansas City region's second-busiest freight artery. The Missouri DOT expects the new interstate designation to further increase that volume.

The construction required to upgrade U.S. 71 to interstate standards cost a total of $313 million, with the federal government contributing $250 million of that amount.