Long-awaited opening for Highway 20 segment is set for August 22

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

The logistics of planning the ribbon-cutting and dedication of a new segment and Iowa River bridge was the focus of the U.S. 20 Corridor Association at its meeting in Fort Dodge Aug. 1.

Those attending are asked to be at the Steamboat Rock school and be driven by bus to the bridge site at 10 a.m.

Lack of parking space at the site is complicating the planning. Congressmen Steve King and Tom Latham, both strong supporters of 4-lane Highway 20, plan to attend. Invitations have been extended to other government officials including President George Bush who will be vacationing at his ranch in Texas.

Because of its unique method of construction, one industry publication named it one of the top 10 bridges in the U. S. Should President Bush attend to see this unique bridge the logistics of the day would be more complicate due to a larger expected crowd.

The ribbon cutting will open the No. 20 segment from Iowa Falls through Hardin and Grundy counties making travel from Ft. Dodge to Dubuque on 4-lane expressway possible without the detours used the last several years.

U.S. 20 has played a prominent role in the economic development of Iowa since its construction in the early 1930s.

The Association is now committed to completing the 95 miles from Moorland to Moville as a 4-lane expressway.

Importance of the completion is supported by research done by Shirley Phillips of the Sac Co. Economic and tourism Development. Her research shows that transportation and economic development need to work hand-in-hand. A new industry in Sac County expected the 4-lane completion when it opened its plant to supply equipment to many major food processors like Tyson, Sara Lee, Wells Dairy and Mars and now Wal-Mart Super Centers.

Other industries cite lower shipping costs and safety from the benefits of 4-lane highways.

The ethanol plant near Galva has 55 trucks arriving daily not including delivery of corn to the plant. V-T plant in Sac City has 900 truckloads leaving the plant on an annual basis. Wells Dairy at LeMars ships product all over the U.S. in 23,000 truckloads each year. Electrolux at Webster City sends out 80-110 trucks per day and 4-lane 20 is a key link in both east and west deliveries.

A U of I economics professor's research contended that 4-lane No. 20 was not a viable project in western Iowa and he has been advising the Iowa Dept. of Transportation. However, after the presentation of the Phillips research last week before a DOT meeting at Spencer he is reported to have backed off from his position and agreed that No. 20 4-lane is a viable project.

Target Distribution Center at Cedar Falls was located there in anticipation of a 4-lane No. 20 across the state. It has 300 truckloads leaving its docks daily, A Hy-Vee spokesperson notes the important of No. 20, 71 and 59 to its distribution center at Cherokee and hiway improvement is extremely important.

A Decker Truck Line official at Ft. Dodge notes: "with large meat packing plants and large turkey processing plants in NW Iowa supplying food products all across the US, truck traffic has to travel No. 20, portions of it being a very unsafe 2-lane highway."

Phillips points to two important factors: improve the travel time for economic development and improve safety for our society to meet the demands of a new century. Citing census figures, Phillips notes that small communities along the four lane No. 380 from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City, grew from 112 percent to 304 percent in population. No. 20 will connect 50 cities along the route from Sioux City to Dubuque.

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