Tom Boland, transportation advocate and businessman, dies

Tom Boland, longtime Hannibal businessman, died Friday night at the age of 88, according to James O’Donnell Funeral Home.

The funeral home said Boland passed away at 7:20 p.m.

Boland wasn’t born in the Tri-States, but many people who grew up in the area probably didn’t know that.  He was born in Columbus, Ohio, and worked at McDonnell Douglas and then Fort Motor Co. in St. Louis.  He bought the Ford dealership in Hannibal in July 1968.

Just 12 years later, he started working on other ways to help his community grow. He started working on transportation issues in the area in 1980, and started the first cross-border talks with Thomas A. Oakley and Illinois transportation supporters in 1984.

Boland worked with Oakley and others to make sure the crossroads of three major national transportation corridors crossed in Hannibal, U.S. 36/Interstate 72, U.S. 61 and Missouri 27. While Oakley worked on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, Boland worked on the Missouri side to make the dream a reality.  Both of them pushed to make sure the path from Chicago to Kansas City passed through the Tri-States, a dream that’s come true in the form of the Route 110, the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway.

Boland was named to the Missouri Economic Development Board in 1988, and then served on the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission from 1992 to 1998, serving as chairman of the commission for four of those years.

Boland also helped found the Tri-State Development Summit in 1996, bringing the might of 35 counties in Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa together to accomplish tasks that benefited the entire region.

While Boland has passed, his name lives on in the highway that he fought to build.  A section of U.S. 61 through Hannibal was named in his honor in 2016. Boland said at the time that it was an outstanding honor and he was delighted with the recognition.  But he also showed a humble side, thanking many others who worked together to make Hannibal the crossroads of Northeast Missouri.

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