Here are some articles from the St. Louis Post Dispatch Archives dating back to June/July 1988, none in any particular order, which may help you to relate to the events of 1988 in an easier way. Most of these archives are dated on or right after July 26, 1988.
Richard C. Ward, president of Development Strategies Inc. here, helped write the section on St. Louis. In an interview, Ward said the nearly completed Interstate 255 loop will open up prime sites for light industrial activities. ''We think the I-255 corridor is just a tremendous opportunity in the Midwest,'' he said.
Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson helped conduct the dedication ceremony for the opening of the six miles of I-255 between I-270 and Interstate 55-70. The six lanes of concrete cost $15 million and took two years to build.
Completion of I-255 finishes the loop of expressways around St. Louis and makes the final link of the 1,700-mile network of interstate highways in Illinois. Officials predict that commercial developments will sprout near interstate highway interchanges in the Metro East area.
A parade of antique cars rolled onto the new highway before regular traffic was allowed. After the dedication, motorists entering the roadway had to weave slowly through cars left parked on the ramp by many of the 300 people who attended the ceremony.
Thompson, standing on a makeshift wooden platform on the highway shoulder, told the people gathered for the dedication that the St. Louis highway loop helped to bind the region.
''Just as we discovered the Mississippi River unites us in southwestern Illinois, along with Missouri, so should this highway unite us,'' Thompson said.
Many at the ceremony wore blue baseball caps with the words ''Last Interstate Mile'' on the front. The caps were provided by the contractors - Illinois Valley Construction Inc. of Bluffs, Ill.; Calhoun County Construction Co. of Springfield, Ill.; and Luhr Brothers Inc. of Columbia, Ill.
The St. Louis area joins other cities with interstate highways that loop around urban cores. The St. Louis system, begun in 1960 in north St. Louis County, has 46 interchanges - 31 in Missouri and 15 in Illinois.
Highway officials in Missouri and Illinois provided estimates that put the cost of the area's loop highways at $1 billion. The 26 miles of I-255, including the new Jefferson Barracks Bridge, cost about $550 million. Construction lasted 11 years.
Robert Koepke, associate director of Regional Research and Development Services at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, called interchanges the key to development near major highways.
Although farmland borders much of I-255, commercial development is beginning at the highway's interchanges, Koepke said. The Metro East area could be about to embark on a building boom that west St. Louis County experienced after the opening of Interstate 270, he said.
About 300 people - many of them builders, developers or Realtors - attended a breakfast Tuesday at the Omni International Hotel to hear speeches about the completion of the highway system. The breakfast was sponsored by Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois.
Greg Baise, secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation, told the audience that completion of the loop around St. Louis would lead to development throughout the region.
''This area is waiting to explode, especially on the Illinois side of the area,'' he said. ''I think we have positioned ourselves in this portion of Illinois for significant growth through the remainder of the century.''
Ned Taddeucci, president of the Regional Commerce & Growth Association, said the St. Louis highway loop ''points out the need for a complete and total transportation system for this region.''
It seemed a bit strange that officials heralded the ''end of an era'' with the completion of Interstate 255 when the pavement really veers off to an exit just before it reaches a new bridge that goes nowhere.
But the opening ceremony northeast of Granite City last week marked the completion of the interstate loop around metropolitan St. Louis and of the interstate highway system in Illinois.
It's just that highway construction can be a sort of strange business.
For example, the I-255 opening Tuesday didn't exactly close the loop for the first time. It just made it smaller, drawing in the east rim from out near Troy.
It also didn't exactly end interstate construction in Illinois.
The North-South Tollway west of Chicago still is being built and is expected to be designated a part of the interstate system. It just isn't financed through the regular interstate trust fund.
The new bridge that lines up with the northern end of Interstate 255 someday will carry the route an additional 22 miles north to the upper reaches of Alton.
But the extension will be a state freeway. It never was accepted for the interstate system. And Illinois has no money available to pay for even a local matching share, let along the whole $200 million ticket.
So the interstate highway is finished even through the actual highway isn't.
Try this. The original part of the interstate loop really was completed more than two years ago. It is the part of Interstate 255 that lies directly south of the part that opened Tuesday. But the state got the federal government to add six more miles to the interstate network, to the latest finishing point at Interstate 270.
Officials say it is highly unlikely, but the federal government may open the interstate purse again, for that last link to Alton. If so, the ceremony Tuesday will have been only a rehearsal.
It probably is best not to try to take these things too seriously, suggests George Wendel, director of the Center for Urban Programs at St. Louis University.
One reason is that when it comes to highways, the projects have always been prone to a lot of change: ''Circumferential streets in St. Louis began with 12th Street,'' Wendel said. ''Kingshighway was the outer highway at one time. So was Skinker. Then it was Lindbergh. When I came to St. Louis, almost nobody lived west of Lindbergh.''
And while fanciers of the city's core tend to curse the peripheral highways for drawing development to the rim, Wendel says it is never clear whether the highways attract the people or vice versa.
''It's just the chicken-and-egg question of which came first.''
More than 30 years ago, the highway excitement was on the Missouri side, where plans to build an ''outer belt'' highway melded into plans for a ''circumferential highway.'' The result, a 38-mile, west-side loop, simplified driving but not necessarily navigating. Different sections went by different names: I-270, I-244 and I-255.
Apologetic highway officials said in the 1960s that the different numbers didn't have to be confusing to motorists. In 1974, the officials appeared to change their minds, renaming all of what then existed I-270. But it was not before serious consideration was given to naming the loop for President John F. Kennedy.
The Illinois part began opening in sections several years ago, including the completion of a replacement bridge near Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery; a second span there is still under construction. The Illinois portion, and the southernmost piece of Missouri's, are called I-255.
Otherwise, some motorists might have been baffled at the very interchange where Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson presided over the ceremony Tuesday. That is because the highways running in three directions from there all would have been numbered I-270.
There is no apparent reason for anyone to drive around the loop in one trip. But for the record, it runs about 72 miles and ranges in width from four lanes to ten.
It would take about 79 minutes for the trip, assuming the speed limit of 55 mph. Of course, in a rush-hour crush it might be impossible to go 55. It also might be impossible to go only 55.
The speed limit on the Illinois segment was raised to 65 mph for a while, along with Illinois' other rural interstates. But it got reduced to 55 after someone decided that it only looks rural. After all, you can see the St. Louis skyline from a surprisingly large part of it.
Developers and municipal officials are waiting eagerly for a day when the highway looks less rural and more like some of the major interchanges in St. Louis County, decorated with lots of stores, restaurants, service stations and motels.
The loop around St. Louis passes through or near some of its most affluent areas, such as Creve Coeur, and some of its most depressed, such as East St. Louis. The loop even affords a close-up view down the main stretch at Fairmount Park Race Track.
The circular superhighway puts metropolitan St. Louis in the big league of cities with similar features, such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Dallas-Fort Worth. It leaves behind cities that lack those features, cities such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.
Get the irony? You should realize it when you go north on 255 past I-55/70 -- the control city is different and actually bizarre in reality. (If IDOT had listened to Missouri back in 1976, you should understand what the control sign could of say today.) To tell the truth, the southbound control city and the control city for US 50 while multiplexed with 255 are both ironic. (The irony behind "Memphis" is very simple and the "Tulsa" is strange due to the fact they still have I-244.)
In reality, most of I-255 is *still* surrounded by farmland. Most of the new businesses that have been spurting up are either agricultural or some new car dealership. Most of the growth has been confined to the Columbia area, though some significant growth has also happened in Dupo and Cahokia.